14 Reasons Training Fails

” Training is a waste of time and money.” Businessman Looking At Colleagues Sleeping During Presentation

“It didn’t work the last time we did it.”

There are times when training is a waste of time and money.  I’ve found that when training does not produce behavioral change, there are generally some underlying reasons to that. Here are fourteen.  What other reasons can you think of?

One:  When everyone must take the training, not because everyone needs it but because it’s easier to put a whole bunch of people in a training session than deal with the individuals who are not performing to standard.

Two:  When the participants have no idea why they are there, what they are being trained on or how it will help them be more successful at their job.

Three:  When you’re being over-zealous with training.  Training is good.  Too much training, especially when the participants don’t understand why they are there, is exhausting.

Four:  When it’s boring!

Five:  When the principles taught are not backed up or supported by the executive and management team.

Six:  When the training is not in alignment with organizational realities, current or future.

Seven:  When it’s not tied to a specific goal or objective.

Eight:  When a toxic, negative work environment exists.

Nine:  When the learner doesn’t have the necessary skills to process or apply the learning.

Ten:  When the learner’s current knowledge, skills and abilities are not acknowledged and recognized.

Eleven: When it is rushed, either by packing  too much information in a session or not allowing participants time to absorb and practice before introducing the next level or topic.

Twelve: When there is no clear statement as to what a successful training session will achieve.  If end goals are not clearly stated, it is very difficult to measure success.

Thirteen:  When the training doesn’t address the real issue.  For example, a full-day of customer service training won’t improve customer satisfaction scores if the real problem is skill or knowledge based. When team members don’t know HOW to do job tasks, they become frustrated and customers become frustrated.  Or perhaps the team leader never provides any feedback or only provides negative feedback, so morale is low and the “can do” attitude has died.  In that case, training one supervisor how to be a strong leader will be more effective.

Fourteen:  When short-term thinking prevails.  Sometimes, results are immediate.  If a safety policy is not being followed, new behaviours, such as always wearing a harness when working on a roof, should be seen immediately. Mastering time management takes longer which means increased efficiency or productivity will be a more gradual change.


Training, when done well, is not a waste of time or money.  There are numerous studies that show training improves employee morale, productivity and the bottom line.  The key lesson is, before planning any kind of training, whether with an internal trainer or an external trainer, be sure you know why you are training and the end result you desire.  If you can’t clearly articulate that, go hang up the phone and go back to the drawing board.


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