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The Problem(s) with Professional Training: Considerations Before You Invest

change leadership change management e-learning professional development Aug 04, 2021

Let’s set the scene.

You’re attending a workshop on innovation in the workplace, and you are the only one from your team attending due to budget constraints and availability. Due to pandemic restrictions, the event takes place online with a great guest speaker, and the promotional materials promise a high return on investment. All told, the experience takes place over the course of three days during the work week. About two-thirds of the training is presentation with the remaining portion dedicated to small group discussions and activities.

While you are excited to learn more about the topic, you are worried about what the days away from work will mean for your inbox. Additionally, it seems that while your employer paid your program fee, there is still an expectation that you keep up with your day-to-day work - and cross train the rest of your team upon workshop completion. Humans tend to learn while teaching, so cross-training your peers isn’t a bad idea, but this assumes you can take what you’ve literally just learned, distill it, and now effectively share it with others. 

And herein lies (part of) the problem. 

For starters, the “firehose” approach to training may ensure completion, but it does not support learner retention, comprehension, or successful application. Lean learning, which focuses on the core competencies so learners can gain mastery of the fundamentals, and microlearning, which breaks down the training into more digestible units, have both been proven to improve and accelerate skill development. 

Furthermore, you are being asked to step into the role of trainer so your peers can also benefit from your company’s investment in you. While you may be able to summarize a few key insights and observations, it’s unfair to expect immediate returns. Skill development is an active process that requires practice, repetition, and importantly - interest. Delivered out of context, your colleagues may struggle to build connections between what is being taught and how it can benefit their day-to-day work. 

And finally, without collaboration or an internal community of practice to lean on, your ability to improve internal processes or change perspectives will likely be slow-going. Behavior change requires buy-in and momentum, which means your first step will be getting people on board with your ideas and plans. This kind of persuasion doesn’t happen overnight, it happens over the course of many meetings and conversations. The good news is that once you get the right people (influencers) on board, you’ll be able to make inroads with your proposed improvements. 

If you’re not expected to take action with the information you acquired that’s fine, but as the saying goes - if you don’t use it, you lose it. Studies have shown that our brains are designed to conserve energy in order to focus on what is most pressing. In other words, if you do not use your newfound skills quickly, your brain will move on to other things. This means you run the risk of wasting your time and your company’s resources. But perhaps more importantly, this can also lead to frustration and discouragement on behalf of the employer that paid for the training and the employee who is unable to apply what they learned at work or in a future role.  

So, what is the alternative? 

We recommend driving the conversation with your employer to help find professional training that is better suited to the business needs, your learning style, and at a time when you can immediately and synchronously apply your new learnings.

We also recommend searching for programs that integrate lean learning principles into the curriculum. Learning about a new topic doesn’t require that you immediately understand everything about it; rather, applying the Pareto Principle (20% of the things you learn contribute to 80% of your overall improvement) will ensure you first focus on the minimum learnable unit (MLU). When you possess a strong understanding of a new concept’s most basic elements, you will be much more likely to successfully apply what you’ve learned in a real life situation. 

The best way to approach training in the workplace is to focus on microlearning. Research has shown people are more likely to retain information when it’s delivered in bite-sized increments spread out over time, and make smaller, more manageable changes in their everyday workflows rather than large-scale change all at once. Microlearning is a more sustainable way of approaching new learnings and outcomes.

Apogy has designed its Change Leadership Certification training program using both lean and microlearning principles, providing participants with the necessary frameworks and foundational concepts required to begin immediately. Furthermore, the on-demand format encourages participants to utilize their new learnings while taking the training at a time that is convenient for them. 

While some providers deliver on a schedule that is immovable, companies like Apogy can ensure learning takes place at the exact moment it will be most relevant and needed. If your employer or team is interested in change management training, let them know about Apogy. They’ll be pleased to see your initiative, grateful for the cost savings, and perhaps more importantly, get to experience the benefits of developing change leaders at all levels in the workplace.



Where Companies Go Wrong with Learning and Development, Steve Glaveski

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