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Good reminder, Chuck! The "training effect" is often invoked even when training is inappropriate to improve performance.

In my corporate T&D years, using pre- and post- training tests, I noted that training was most useful when (a) new information would be learned, (b) trainees needed practice in circumstances where it was safe to fail, (c) mutual appreciation of current competency levels could be established, and (d) management wanted to prove its commitment to employee KSA enhancement and upward career mobility. Much training is only useful for psychological reinforcement because the trainees already know the subject matter.

Thank you for the article. So many training/Development programs are designed without first conducting a needs analysis. Often, a popular topic is chosen, such as Leadership, a generic course is put together, a group is chosen to attend - middle managers - and the training session is scheduled, to be held in a classroom setting with a presenter.

The managers will not take much away from this session. I've seen it many times. Instead of this formula, what my partner and I did a while back at a retailer i worked for was to recognize where the managers in the region needed help... improving kpis (and driving business) in a couple crucial areas. We analyzed whether they needed training (how to coach salespeople/how to greet guests,close sales etc...) or whether they needed tools.

what we decided was that the managers knew how to lead their sales people. What they lacked was a plan. They needed a tool a manager could use to assign a goal to an assistant manager or team. My partner and i developed the tool - the one page business plan. We trained them to pick their most important kpi; set the goal (x to y by when - or from here to there by what date); write in the action steps (what needs to be done when/ask customer question with every sale/greet customer a different way/call customer/have regular meetings with team...); who is responsible for each action item and by when. We worked through the tool/business plan together in a workshop setting.

These managers were so excited to have something in their hands they could bring back to their stores that would define their business goals and organize their teams. They could also track progress by following what/how, who/when in the action plan but also by looking at the needle move for the kpi percentage every day.

This type of training is so much more useful because we are directly helping to drive measurable business results. Training in soft skills has its place in business also just be careful to build up some measurable wins with the program first.

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