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Are you wasting your money on Training?


Guest articles > Are you wasting your money on Training?


by: John Fillingham


 John Fillingham reviews how we spend the precious money in our training budgets and asks some deep rooted questions about our knowledge of the training process.

Come hither ye accountants...

I can see the accountants ears prick up right now…I can hear the sceptics come racing out of the closet…wasting money on training? Yes, I say, that’s not because training is a waste of money, oh no, as a fervent supporter, how could I stray into such territory. What I am saying is, squeezing and cajoling your training exposure time with 1 or more topics crammed into a day or half a day is surely na´ve if not down right crazy if you really think through what you are doing. “My budget doesn’t allow it!” I hear you cry, then do something else I say, get creative, use your internal resources not external ones, train them how to coach and train, do both because they need both skills to be really effective.

Filtering, the Olympic ski team and 33 and a 1/3 thinking

I subscribe to this common sense concept (and actually a well thought out theory)…to do a job (task or anything else you can substitute here for this word) really well you need three things to be in place….1) Knowledge – this is the simple information of what needs to be done, including context and the reason why. 2) Skills – this comes into play when applying the knowledge learnt (from whatever source), the practical stuff, (I can read a book on how to ski but until I can do it in practice I’m not going to enter the Olympics). 3) Confidence – this means the pure determination and guts to actually use the last 2 so whatever you have learnt actually gets applied. It is commonly suggested that once you have the first too that your confidence will grow or just “be there” and therefore it will happen – wrong. It takes support, a non-judgemental environment and lots of other stuff to get you going and keep you going.


Skilfully unsuccessful through confusion, the right "feed"

Anyone of these on their own is simply not enough. Each is a 33.3333% important and we have been often skilfully unsuccessful in trying to get our learning experiences to cover them. We often confuse them and don’t really understand the needs of our employees well enough to ensure they are getting the right "feed".

Example – project management, knowledge, skills and confidence

Let’s take a simple example and work it through….Project Management….it involves a number of SKILLS as well as some theoretical knowledge and certainly a lot of confidence to carry it through so let’s take a quick glimpse….knowledge section: areas such as p/mgt methodologies, like gantt charts, critical path analysis, work breakdown structures, risk analysis, contingency planning, all standard items on your p/mgt shopping list. Skills section – planning, motivation, creativity, communication, questioning, listening, generating feedback, problem solving, I could go on… Confidence section– explored the obstacles to success, safely experimented with practical exercises, got the correct mind set – no lingering doubts or scepticism.

Foundation skills and knowledge focused solutions

Now we take the skills list, is that really going to be adequately covered in a day or half day along with all the other stuff bundled in? Unlikely, so it is inevitable that this event is going to focus on knowledge with a few exercises thrown in to test your skills (not improve them) using your new found information. Do we really actually send enough of our dear delegates on dedicated skills courses, probably not. We often forget these are the foundations for many of the more “knowledge” focused programmes that our people end up on. Often it’s these “basic” yet fundamental skills that people lack and therefore time and time again, programme after programme, workshop after workshop simply fails to create the impact we all desire, because the fundamental skills are not in place, often preventing the self confidence element to grow.

Getting it back in focus – asking the right questions

The feedback from my clients has always been gracious and interesting…”you always seem to ask the right questions”. For me it is simple, where are they now and where do you want them to be…this is the obvious “learning gap” question, I create the bridge. Assess your training candidates well, what skills do they lack, what knowledge do they need, where are their confidence levels, what are their obstacles?

Obstacles and money down the drain

Often these are the questions us learning professionals ask as part of our getting to know our audience to ensure our focus is spot on for the delegates and often we discover that the hurdles to success are going to take so much hard work that actually putting into practice their learning is going to be almost impossible…wasted money….I hear your thoughts…so what can we do to stop this happening?

2 fundamental questions, balloons and who tackles the problems

Understanding the need/person fully and understanding the context is the goal. The process by which you can achieve it is flexible. Asking the core questions to identify skill, knowledge or confidence will be fundamental to identifying the need correctly. Secondly, applying learning is rather like getting a balloon off the ground, ropes tie you to the ground, ballast in the basket holds you back, what barriers do you need to overcome, what do you need to stop doing to focus on what’s important? We often assign the responsibility of the individual to overcome these barriers, hasn’t the organisation got some responsibility too? That’s called making a partnership out of learning and development…an aspirational goal for many a HR department.


John Fillingham, MSc (Cantab), DipHR (Cantab), GMus, LCGI, LPNLP, MSNLP, Chartered FCIPD, FRSA is International Lead Trainer at 4SIGHT Training solutions,

If you want your training to really take off contact John at


Contributor: John Fillingham

Published here on: 2-Jun-08

Classification: Education, HR


MSWord: Are you wasting your money on Training.doc

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