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Employee Training: The Infinite Game

In a recent meeting with a prospect, I was asked the question, "Can we not just sign up for a few of the online courses rather than ongoing training?" This mindset got me thinking about the role of training within an organisation and the difference between those companies who have made training work for them as opposed to those who see it as a box ticked in the finite sense.

It has been my experience that the need for training is often a knee-jerk reaction to a customer/member/client articulating dissatisfaction with a certain element of the output or service from staff. The required training, therefore, seeks to plug the hole of whatever was not being executed properly. This type of training is often executed in a finite manner in the form of a workshop with a specific them or focus area. One may argue that this is a relevant theme and therefore justified. In reality, this finite approach very rarely leads to a sustained improvement in output. The typical result is perhaps a spike in the attendees' output for a certain period of time only for them to fall back into old habits necessitating the need for the training in the first place.

Developing a sustained change in behaviour requires a change not only in a competency or skill-set but a change in how the employee identifies themselves in the company and as importantly, what (predetermined) stimulus they are exposed to on an ongoing (and structured) basis from the leadership.

Ultimately, any form of training conducted within an organisation should be feeding the pre-determined, articulated and inherent culture to said organisation. The culture should be clearly understood by every staff member NOT just theoretically but what it means in terms of their behaviour towards fellow colleagues and customers alike.

Employee training (and the proliferation of one's company culture) is not a finite exercise for a department. There should never be a start, middle and end mentality. There is no game to win or lose but rather an ongoing endeavour to improve on the output from yesterday. This does not mean that staff cannot be recognised for the achievement of completing a module/chapter etc but the reality is this - the more you feed your culture with the right stimulus, the more your team will identify with the expected behaviour-set aligned to your culture and consequently, the more consistent your output (customer value proposition) will be.

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