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10 ways to utterly fail in training and developing people

10 ways to utterly fail in training and developing people

1. Don’t embed the learning through an ongoing continual process

Learning and development is all about changing habits, and we all know that changing habits requires more than a once-off event. Indeed, research shows it takes between 18 and 254 days to change a habit (not the 21-28 days that you see so often. So if you want to fail at delivering high-quality effective training then you want to make sure that you don’t embed the learning and make it habit forming.


2. Don’t have a outcome in mind

This one’s written about so much that I’m not going to cover it in detail here. You know the spiel, if need to know where you are going before you end up there; you need the destination to plan the journey. So, if you want to be a failure, then you should definitely not have an outcome in mind.

3. Don’t have a strategy

Failing to plan is planning to fail. Successful leaders know that they need to set up a strategy that includes a number of ways to support and develop their people. They will develop a strategy that involves covers all the different learning outcomes and learning styles. They will know what they are covering, when it’s being covered, how it’s being covered, and what the follow up is. If you want to fail, then you must not develop and implement a training and development strategy.

4. Don’t have a feedback mechanism

If you want your people to learn and improve, then you need to ensure they understand how their performance rates. What are they doing well? What could they be doing better? What do you appreciate about them? And, how do they contribute to the organisations success? Successful leaders develop their people by doing this, but if you don’t want to succeed, then you should make sure that you don’t give your people any quality feedback.

5. Don’t implement support mechanisms

Successful leaders ensure there are a variety of support mechanisms in place for their followers. Really successful leaders make sure that this support comes from their managers and their peers and is delivered in the form of coaching, buddying, and mentoring. A leader that wants to fail will make sure that they don’t offer any valuable support to their followers when they are training and developing their leaders.

6. Don’t give people the chance to practise their new skills

Governments want new drivers to be skilled and safe when they are on the roads, that’s why they have to take practical tests and then receive a provisional licence before their full licence. It’s to ensure they have enough time to practise their new skills and really learn them before they are put to the test. If governments didn’t want safe roads, they wouldn’t bother with the requirement for log books to get licences; if you don’t want successful people then you too should not worry about allowing people to practise their skills.

7. Don’t get your senior leaders and influencers on board

If you’re currently seeing successful training and development in your organisation, there’s a good chance that you have senior management support, if you’re seeing stratospheric success, it probably means that you have a senior champion promoting your cause. Having that support and preferably that drive coming from the top of an organisations adds emphasis and importance to training and development—it helps people understand the importance of training and development. So, if you don’t want to be successful anymore, then you definitely don’t want to find a high-level champion before you start your training and development initiative.

8. Don’t appreciate learning differences and communication styles

People learn in different ways: they will preference information from different senses (some want to hear it, others read it, others want to do it, and others need to think about it); and, they will remember and be engaged by different types of information (some want the purpose, others the effects of people, some the how-to, and others the data and proof). Successful trainers and facilitators use various tools to ensure they present in a whole-brain approach using a range of sensory styles and in a sequence that ensures maximum engagement and retention. Unsuccessful trainers and facilitators can’t be bothered learning about such things and just present information in the way that seems natural to them. So, if you want to be an unsuccessful trainer, facilitator and leader, don’t spend the time to develop whole-brained, multi-sensory initiatives.

9. Don’t acknowledge and celebrate

People like rewards, acknowledgement and celebrations. They don’t have to be big, but they do need to be genuine. Successful leaders know this and practice reflection and positive reinforcement. If you don’t want to be successful, then it’s ok to focus just on the immediate task and not on the acknowledgement and celebration.

10. Finally, whatever you do, don’t link your training and development to business outcomes

Unsuccessful leaders have squirrel-brains that get hijacked by every little acorn they see—whether it’s appropriate or not. Successful leaders on the other hand, know that if they’re to be successful, everything they do needs to support the success of the business overall—they will make sure that any training and development supports and builds organisational capability and capacity in achieving business outcomes. To ensure you don’t succeed, make sure you don’t link your training and development initiatives with broader business outcomes.

If, after reading this post you’re not convinced by the argument for being a failure at training and development, and instead want to be a successful leader. You may want to head over to get your free checklist for training success. If you want to be a failure though, you want to make sure that you definitely don’t do that.

More in this category: « Training is not an Event

I think Aileen’s ability to deliver instructions to groups of different levels is fabulous. Her assistance with debriefing and pulling it back to behaviour is also very helpful.

Therese Muirhead - CBH Group, Organisational Development