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Great article Margaret,
I would guess that most of those companies with ineffective training programs THINK they are doing it right.

We tend to put time and effort into something and then apply value to it. We seldom rational evaluate that value, and even when we do, we tend to ignore the data since we KNOW what we did was right.

More people need to learn how to help others learn. They need to be open to that fact (as shown by data) that their training doesn't work well, and more importantly that other companies in the same position have figured out how to do a good job training.

I often hear HR and Comp people say about their managers, "they just don't care", or "they just can't seem to understand what we are teaching them. Sometimes is the messenger that needs to be corrected.

Dan, thanks for adding more insight into how the ineffective training comes about. So many training programs emphasize what managers should know. In reality, the essence of the training should be what they need to do and how to help them build the confidence to do it.

When the goal of training is to inform, and nothing else, we can count on bored managers and no new behaviors. It's not the manager's fault, it's the logical outgrowth of our approach.

Adult education in general and supervisory training in particular is not easy to accomplish effectively. The best methods are well known but rarely heeded, just as folks heed the speed limit signs. ASTD, the specialized professional society for training, devotes far more attention to this topic than any other. Every compensation person should either take ASTD courses on training methods or read the practical books and articles on the subject of "learning."

Basics like lesson plans, pre/post testing, feedback loops, intermittent subsequent reinforcement methods and learning confirmation tests are vital. They should be second nature to the HR/comp practicioner. When those basic steps are not known and not implemented, well designed systems will tend to fail the moment they reach the target audience.

ASTD is a great suggestion, Jim. Training, like writing, is easy to do, but difficult to do effectively. ASTD provides the kind of preparation that professional instructional designers receive in graduate courses. Compensation practitioners would find them interesting (lots to learn on motivation and engagement) and full of tactical ideas.

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