What Really Gets to Learning Officers These Days? Professionals Chime in with Their Biggest Pain Points

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I initiated an interesting discussion on LinkedIn earlier this week, not with the intended purpose of a blog post, but rather I was just curious – why not turn to experienced people involved in training/learning within organizations and ask them, what their 3 biggest pain points are rights now = what really bothers them?  Not necessarily just a list of known challenges and barriers to successful employee learning and knowledge transfer, but what really gets to them, what makes their blood boil.  I got so many interest responses, that in I changed my mind and decided to share some of their thoughts on this blog (all with their permission). Our weekly contributor Kevin Goldberg has covered previously the question of potential barriers and common training issues facing training from a variety of angles.  I myself also wrote earlier this year n about 7 potential barriers to organization learning.   But I wanted to hear from those in the field right now.

Karen Rae, of Aspire Performance Training:

  • The lack of understanding about how people learn amongst training “professionals” 
  • Dodgy operators who detract from the importance of quality education in the pursuit of dollars 
  • People who think they can train/teach a subject because they are subject matter experts.
  • Learners distracted by the day to day activities of their roles because they can’t disconnect from their technology.

Karoliina Valkamo, Senior Learning and Development Manager:

  • A lack of agreed purpose why to deploy a program, resulting poor results and sour relations between units.
  • For some, training and learning are seen as a short term cost vs. long term investment. Intervention projects need to presented on what business value they bring.

Jim Heffernan, Founder of Insights53:

  • Not differentiating between the need to inform and the need to change behaviors. Product, marketing and sales stakeholders need guidance in selecting the best forum for achieving their goals. If training for understanding and behavioral change is the answer, then those same stakeholders must allow SME content to be translated by educators into teaching and learning practices. And, the stakeholders must commit to managing to the desired behavior for ROI to be recognized.

Colleen Morris, Corporate University Training & Integration Manager at Brown-Forman Corporation:

  • Learners are ready to embrace new ways to learn. If we want our learners to be engaged and our training to have greater impact, we need to find new ways to deliver our training and leverage the technology around us. If we can do this, learners can always go back and review and reinforce what they learn, at any time and place where the technology exists.

Thomas Belanger, Author of Teamwork in Ten Days:

  • How to blend a variety of learning activities which are focused on particular skills. 
  • People being “sent” to training that they do not want, presumably to be “fixed”. 
  • Poor, or so-so training, or facilitation.

Deb Lawley, Finance Officer at Fontana Regional Library:

  • I don’t think you can separate institutional barriers from the training itself. Training can’t start and stop at the doors of the classroom, and if the institution is creating barriers then staff are just jumping through hoops when they are in class. If staff are their because they were sent they may have no buy-in. If they know this isn’t going to change their job, they have no buy-in. If they don’t perceive management cares about this, then they have no buy-in. And if the training itself was micromanaged by an outside manager who doesn’t understand training, then the trainer will have no buy-in and the staff will not take anything away. Besides, basic training theory teaches us that staff will only remember about 3 pieces of information from an hour training. So no trainer expects a class to remember most of what we teach. The problem is that managers do expect them to remember and retain it – as if they are some kind of recording machines – not people. So the biggest pain to training is dealing with the institutional barriers that prevent students from having an actual learning experience in the class.

Deepika Kumar, Assistant Vice President ( K-12) at Educomp Solutions Ltd:

  • Its tough if you have these people as your trainees – those with a “know it all attitude”, those who think to themselves “I am past the learning age” or those who think the training is “all theoretical/bookish. 
  • Deepika also wrote that in order best engage employees, “answering the “What’s in it for me?” question is very important. Linking applications of the training to any job aspect with professional growth can be another motivating factor.”

MB (who asked not to mention full name):

  • We are suddenly seeing a downside to having won over management to the idea of training. They are going overboard and employees are having to sit through class schedules that would overwhelm anyone. A new hire comes in on day one and two weeks later has completed 80 hours in the classroom covering extremely detailed computer systems and processes. Suddenly burnout is hitting before the person ever spends a day at their own desk. Be careful what you ask for. We are having to go back and try to reign in our supporters. 
  • The other “pain” I am seeing even more directly is the ever-present last minute demands because people refuse to factor in other people’s schedules and admit the world does not revolve around them. I still get looks of amazed irritation when I explain that I need more then 30 minutes to edit, proof and print a 400 page manual for 10 people. Somehow I don’t see this issue ever being resolved though.

 Ana T. Gomez, Strategic Global Human Resources Manager and Development Coach:

  • It’s key that managers set expectations to their employees before they attend a development program, the program should not be “an event”, it should be structured so there is accountability on the part of the manager and the participant, on what is required before, during and after the program.
The discussion is continuing, so I may write back with more.  But for now, what are YOUR biggest pain points in training?
Jason is the former Lead Author & Editor of TrainingStation Blog