• Eric

Training: What’s the Problem? (a two part series)

Updated: Aug 2, 2018


Recent research reports that many root cause investigations prescribe training as the primary go-to method of problem remediation. Despite organizations providing these corrective action plans to customers for approval, there’s often little evidence to suggest that a lack of training caused the observed issue. It’s almost universally accepted that training will remedy the observed problem.


Whether that’s an accurate assessment or not, training does provide indisputable benefits to the employee and organizational development.


Training fundamentally improves an employee’s overall competency and proficiency. Let’s say a retired surgeon has been out of the operating room for 10 years. Though they may have the skills on paper from years of surgery experience, they won’t be as effective as someone with an equal amount of recent experience. Consistent practice drives efficiency.

But most organizations have ineffective training systems. They have to accommodate employees and trainers with different schedules. There’s often only a loosely defined training plan with limited forethought going into the content strategy and delivery of training materials. Most troublingly, team commitment is typically lackluster in response to scheduled training exercises. 


Let's examine how organizations approach professional training internally and externally, discuss where those platforms fall short, and what other solutions organizations can use to address problems stemming from training.

Read on to learn more.


Defaulting to On-The-Job Training Programs Is a Mistake.


Why do so many companies default to on-the-job training programs where mentors work closely with new or poorly performing employees? On-the-job training is difficult to document. It also fails to identify the necessary skill sets required for each position within an organization.


Most employees aren’t performing surgery. They’re repairing equipment, fabricating a product, doing prep work, or helping customers.


Each of these roles has unique education and experience requirements as they relate to the organization they work in. On-the-job-training is used because organizations tend to believe that given a certain period of time, with the right exposure to circumstances, an employee will gain substantial knowledge and experience.


However, non-conformance data, corrective actions, and customer complaints don’t support this supposition. Something more is necessary.


Learning to Leverage Trainee’s Attention Spans

At the other end of the spectrum, some businesses who perform training in dedicated meetings derail their training programs with painfully boring and long-winded sessions. The average attention span is 14 minutes. The most effective training is accomplished in sprints.



When training is provided externally, many trainers will encourage long sessions. These sessions accommodate business travel schedules and represent a substantial cost reduction.


Internal training faces similar problems. Managers have little time to spare. They’re pressed to consolidate multiple subjects into one session. They attempt to cover too many topics, which results in low-quality content.


Employees Won’t Endure Ineffective Training. They’ll Leave.

Most industries define high turnover as more than 10% of your workforce. If your organization cuts the bottom 10% of performers on an annual basis, you’re likely in good shape with employee retention. However, in a business with 50 employees, if you lose seven employees in a typical year, you’re probably losing some valuable team players.

Countless research shows that failure to equip employees for success is one of the top five reasons high performers depart an organization. Another of the top five for high turnover rates is employee frustration resulting from a lack of guidance, career development, and feedback, which can be summarized is leadership failure.


Training Deficiencies Cost Your Organization Money


Training deficiencies can cause employee turnover, recurring non-conformances, repeat corrective action, and customer complaints. These cost organizations money, time, and business. In the quality management sector, we call this the “Cost of Poor Quality,” which in turn results in:

  • Extra materials used

  • Increased labor to fix the observed problem

  • Lost opportunity cost

  • Late delivery

  • Long cycle time

  • Loss of sales and revenue and slimmer profit margins

  • Lower service level to customers and consumers

To effectively address root cause issues with employee training, an efficient and repetitive method of communication and employee skill/knowledge verification is required. That means 1) having a training plan, and 2) consistent execution of the plan.

What’s your plan?

How will you improve? – stay tuned for part two!

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© 2018 by Quality Management System & Consulting.