A Training Session is Just the Beginning

The problem is simple.  Too many employees are not fully developed.  In fact, too many employees develop very little after they are hired.

And this is a problem.

So, how does a company do a better job at developing employees?  Here is a line from the 2002 book that kind of launched the “Execution” discussion of the last decade, Execution:  The Discipline of Getting Things Done by Larry Bossidy and Ram Charan.

Teach your people – but remember, 80% of learning happens outside of the formal learning situations. 

If 80% of learning happens outside of the formal learning situations, does this mean that the formal training, the formal sessions, are a waste of time?  Yes – and no.

The formal training sessions are essential to jump-start the conversation, to give the “basics,” to “teach” the principles that need to be worked on.  In other words, if the 80% of learning is outside the formal learning situations, you still need the formal session to start the process effectively.  It is only a start – but it is an essential start.

But, after the session, the real learning begins.  As the employee “works on” this new development area, a manager has to provide feedback, coaching, constructive criticism.  It has to be someone’s job to help each employee take the next step.

So, in other words, without the training session, it is a much harder task to demonstrate just what needs to be worked on.  But just to “say/present/teach,” even in a well-designed and well-led training session “this is what you need to work on,” without effective follow-up feedback and coaching, then, yes, training sessions can be a waste of time and resources.

In other words, it takes work; ongoing work, a lot of work, and teamwork between employee and managers, to develop the skills and capabilities of employees.


At Creative Communication Network, we have recently experimented with a new “Individual Action Plan,” that each participant completes at the end of each training session.  Then, it is up to that employee to share that plan with his/her manager, and together they can tackle the ongoing feedback and coaching needs.

The training sessions alone are good, valuable.  But, not enough!  We are fully convinced that it is the “next steps” that make all the difference.

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