Why Did Your Training Fail?

Training always represents a huge investment for the company. It’s not only the cost of the training itself but also the time employees spend on training and the impact it has on the day to day operations. Also, it may cause additional costs, drawbacks or even legal issues.

But what causes a training session to fail?

Of course, there are some obvious causes: trainers’ skills, language barrier and the quality of teaching materials. Usually, these issues can be easily addressed, but sometimes, even when everything lines up, training turns out a total bust. This is usually the consequence of flawed change management. A common mistake is to treat training like an ending. This is never true. Training is the beginning of a change, and as such, it always leads to a more complex roadmap.

If we go a bit deeper, we will identify five main areas that may cause a failure.


open communicationHelp participants fully understand what the purpose of training is. Make sure they see the big picture behind the innovation, be it introducing a new machinery, software or process.

If they don’t, they can draw a wrong meaning, not pay enough attention or even oppose to the content throughout the training; best case scenario – they underestimate some part because they don’t see where you’re going with it.

This can jeopardise the effectiveness of the training which is why you simply must ensure that everyone understands and shares the vision of the training. Do this before, but also after the training to ensure that the goals are still clear.


Do people attending the training have enough prior knowledge to follow it? And will they manage to learn the expected (to the desired level)?

Sending someone to training without them having the correct skill set may lead to underestimating or misunderstanding some parts of the training. Also, the feeling that they are behind the rest of the class might lead to frustration. We must ensure that all participants have at least the minimal skill set required to understand the content of the training.

On the other hand, not everybody ends up at the same level after the training. Someone might be having a bad day, hard time focusing or they misunderstood something. A final test will ensure that the core concepts are obtained, but it’s usually not enough. We must always check that in the long run all skills have been acquired and all aspects of the training understood.


Are participants motivated to attend? How do they feel about the training?

Most of the time, people attend training because they have to. Even the most loyal employees will lack the motivation to attend training if they do not see its usefulness.

This may lead to people having a negative attitude towards the training, constantly challenging the content of the training or being absent-minded.

Though it might be challenging sometimes, we must find a way to “sell” the training to participants. The WIIFM approach is essential in this case. You can read more about it in one of the previous posts.


Training makes sense only if its timing is accurate. A major and sadly, quite often mistake is to postpone the follow-up activities after the completion of training.

timingIf you do not practice what you’ve learnt, you will lose it. For example, if you postpone releasing a new software, which was the whole reason employees attended the training, they might forget what they’ve learnt, and you might have to train them all over again.

Again, having a bad timing may lead to personal frustration or misunderstanding the goals and operational aspects of training. This is why in case we have to delay our schedule we must always be clear and prompt in communicating the reasons behind the delay.

Operational Aspects

Once you’ve cleared all of the above points, there is one more thing left for you to consider – is your training a good fit for the given conditions.

There is no one-size-fits-all solution, which is why you need to make sure that yours works well in its environment.

When people come across a problem, they tend to find some sort of a solution or a workaround. But this customised solution may be different for each one of them, or even worse, it may have some backdrops that they have not foreseen or understood.

training cycleIt is fundamental that we constantly keep track of all the possible changes, best practices, and operational aspects in order to have full control of the whole cycle. To ensure that all people are aligned you must then go back to step one: the training.

Simply, keep in mind these five “traps” and treat training as a beginning, as the first stage in the infinite cycle of improvement of employees and the business and rest assured that keeping your course on this track will lead you to great results.




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