Leadership training. Team training. Skills training. Organizations are always looking to upgrade, adapt, and excel. But how many training binders do you need sitting on the shelf gathering dust? You know, the ones that showed great potential at the time, but have not resulted in any significant change. If you’re like most companies, the shelves are sagging under the weight.

There are excellent training programs that your employees can benefit from; however, you must first identify the underlying problem.  When I say “identify,” I’m not talking about the tip of the iceberg; I’m referring to the bulk hidden underwater – the real issue.

It’s frustrating to see organizations invest in comprehensive and expensive training programs without being aware of the root cause or real problem. Are you aware of what’s going on “under the water” within your walls?

Imagine, for a moment, that you have a stomachache. You may stay home for a day or two, try various remedies, but when the problem worsens, you realize it’s time to seek help from a professional to understand the cause.

So, you go to your doctor. Your doctor would not immediately prescribe the treatment without understanding your problem but would ask specific questions to determine the cause of your condition. And then, you may be subjected to various tests to ensure you receive the proper treatment.

This should be the same approach when it comes to human performance issues.

Let’s say, for example, you cannot obtain the required performance outcomes when you look at the performance of your leadership team.

  • What do you exactly want them to do?
  • What is the performance outcome you want to see?
  • Why are they not doing what they are supposed to be doing?

Is a leadership training program the right prescription, or is there a part hidden underwater that you cannot see or avoid seeing?

The first critical question you must ask is: “Are you aware of the underlying cause of poor performance, and what is the right prescription?”

If training is part of the solution to the performance issue, as part of the prescription, you must ensure that the whole learning experience (not only the content) will make an impact in developing the desired behaviours. Organizations first need to determine their business goals and the desired behaviours to help them achieve those goals.

The second critical question you must ask is: “What are the desired behaviours required to achieve your organizational goals?”

The environment has changed as teams work remotely during this global pandemic. We need to change the way we do things. Organizations across North America are spending tens of billions of dollars on training programs annually. They know “something” has to change, so they look at training programs filled with extensive content that cannot be absorbed in such a short period. There is no tangible way for employees to tie the information to their work and develop the desired behaviour.

Providing only content shouldn’t be the purpose of a learning experience – it will not improve performance. The learning experience should aim at helping people link the information to their work, apply what they’ve learned consistently so they can develop the desired behaviour that will improve their performance. As Harold D. Stolovitch and Erica J. Keeps say, “training ain’t performance,” and behaviours cannot be developed overnight.

If the whole learning experience does not include these components, and allow time to develop, practise new behaviours, then the information will stay in the binders and continue sagging the shelves. You cannot expect much performance improvement as a result.

The third critical question you must ask is: “Is the learning experience supporting the desired behaviour development to achieve your organizational goals?

As an organization, when you plan to invest in training programs, you need to make sure that the whole learning experience aligns with the answers to these three questions and contribute to behavioural change. Then your investment as an organization in terms of time, money, and resources will be allocated effectively.

Nurdan Tokoz has developed a reputation for shining a light on individuals within high-performance teams and helping them to exceed performance expectations so the organization can achieve its goals. As a Human Performance Consultant, with degrees in both industrial engineering and adult education, Nurdan excels at identifying performance issues, developing sustainable solutions with a systematic and holistic approach to improving human performance.
Download her whitepaper, “The Top 5 Performance Mistakes,”.