Why doesn’t training stick ?


After years in senior HR roles and managing large teams of people, I was frustrated when we spent time and money on training that didn’t seem to impact on the day job. I would have understood if the training wasn’t very good ! But often this was brilliant training that was delivered by great people, using sound business models and robust research. More often than not, “happy sheets” would provide feedback that the training was great. More often than not almost all the delegates would say that they would definitely use the skills back in the workplace.

So I wanted to do know more about why people who were keen to use the skills back in the workplace, didn’t end up doing so. And what I could do about it.

Cue – lots of research, conversations with training professionals and good old fashioned thinking later…There is one element of the training that I now know from experience can make all the difference. (Clue…it is not the quality of your slides…)

The interest and the involvement of the line manager – before and after the training – makes a significant and measurable difference as to whether training makes a difference to the business. 

It sounds so simple and so obvious. But come on…Let’s be honest. When I was a busy line manager, could I, hand on heart, say that I made proper time to have a powerful conversation with everyone who worked with me, in order make the training investment I had made really count? 

No I can’t. And not for bad reasons. 

What were my excuses…Err…The main one was that I trusted them to get on with it by themselves. They were capable people. I was sure they would ask if they wanted help…Right?

Well no. Not according to some of the best people I have spoken to who have 100s of years of experience between them. And not according to some of the latest research about what makes us work at work.

Knowledge moving from a classroom to the front line requires the line manager to proactively do something. Trusting people to get on with it sounds like empowerment, but it often doesn’t lead to a new behaviour or a new idea making it into the day to day work life of your teams. 

Put simply, the science says your teams will mainly focus their minds on what you talk about and what you “reward” with your attention. 

If you don’t talk to them about what they have just learned and help them to think how they want to use it, 8 weeks later, more than 80% of it will be forgotten. 

“I’d love to do that but I just don’t have the time…” Is a common response I get when I challenge a line manager to do this well. The great news is that I have found a few simple ways to do this that really work. 

People who have used it tell me it’s fast and actually quite rewarding.

We use the GROW model as a tool. It’s simple, it works and most people know it. Perhaps we could have invented new acronym, but why bother when this works just great ? We keep it simple.

If you are a line manager and one of your team is going on a training course, give them 4 minutes of your undivided attention and ask them a good “G” question and a good “R” question. 

When they get back to work, give then another 4 minutes of your undivided attention and ask them a good “O” and a good “W” question. 

Of course, ask more than 1 question if you like. Give them 7 minutes of your undivided attention by all means! However, our research suggests just 2 questions asked before one of your team attends training has a remarkable effect. Promise. 

If your mind is blank (or one of your team is meeting you in 2 minutes and you can’t think of a great question…!), then give these a try. You could always build on them to make them more personal. 

Pre Training               

G (GOAL) Questions:

What are you hoping to get from the training ?

How are you going to measure if attending this training was a success for you (and/or the Company)

What would you love to be saying to me if I called you in the car on the way home after the training?

R (REALITY) Questions:

What is stopping you being really good at this already ? (You may want to probe if this is down to “Skill” or “Will” if you have the time)

What will stop you making the most of this opportunity to learn or practise your skills ?

Are you really up for this? What could change that?
Post Training (ideally within 24 hours but 78 hours max)

O (OPTIONS) Questions:

What things do you want to do differently as a result of the learning ?

What could you start doing differently today?

What could you do and what will you do ? What’s the difference ?

W (WHAT NEXT) Questions:

How will we measure how successful you have been ?

What can I do to help ?

What do you want me to do if you don’t deliver on your good intentions ?

Give it a go. Let us know if it works or how you improve upon it. 
And contact us at hello@teabreaktraining.com to find out more about the full Tea Break Training model. We’d love to include your successes in our research…

16 thoughts on “Why doesn’t training stick ?

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