I have written and spoken many times about the need for training and development not to be viewed as a single event. It does now seem that there is a growing consensus that a one-off training course, intervention or event – call it what you like – will not work as well as people think it should. However, this consensus seems to be mainly between learning and development professionals. As a business, we are seeing more and more interest and enquiry in genuine development programmes and solutions that do more than just “train the team” however, it still seems very hard to get that message through to some of the other key stakeholders. There seems to be a disconnect between those who understand that learning and development is an ongoing process and those who are either paying for training or even those who will be attending the training. The fact that many participants still view training as something they “go to” or “have to attend” is a big sticking point. Those providing the budgets for developing the team naturally look for value, but they often still focus on day rates, participant cost and not, at how much impact it will have on the individual or organisation.

How do we solve these problems? I’m not sure there is an easy answer – the use of evidence to educate those involved would be a start, but there are a lot of people out there! “Rebranding” learning and development would also be an interesting project. I personally think that the responsibility lies with the providers. Be brave, don’t offer short-term, event-based training for complex performance issues. Use your knowledge and skill to present a solution that will definitely make a difference not just one that you hope will make a difference. Tell those seeking a quick fix that it won’t work and they will get little or no return on their investment. As someone who runs a business this can be a scary thought, could you be turning down much-needed revenue? ‘Probably’, is the answer but until we remove the short-term options for long-term issues, people will keep turning to it.

Bill Osmond, MD, Phoenix Training