Stop the Train-It Won’t Make the Station

“If you can put a gun to someone’s head, and they can perform the task, it is not a training issue”- Author Unknown

  • Leaders often talk about why people cannot perform and what trainers can do about it.
  • People leave organizations because of “lack of training”.
  • Training departments are often required to provide training solutions for problems that are not training related: because it is what is expected.

As most of us in Training and Development will tell you, that train will not make the station!  How many of us  have tried to explain over and over that what happens after training is just as important as what’s in it.

The issue comes down to understanding key performance problems and whether or not those particular problems can be resolved by training.  Most of the time the answer is no!

Here’s a little table that can help you disseminate, whether your issue can be resolved with training.

My employees don’t know how… Yes- Training can help!

The next step is planning the approach:

  • Informational (talking at you)
  • Collaborative (Mentor/ Manager/ other team members helping)
  • Simulation
  •   eLearning
  • Blended approach


They think they are doing their job, but they aren’t Are expectations clear?

  • Do people understand what quality work looks like?
  • What are the performance standards?

The bullets above should be aligned with the training goals if training is the solution


People are unaware that “x” should be done In this case, communication is more important than training. Leaders become very important here. Some people just do not know they are expected to do something because no one told them, managed their performance etc.

Most people have heard that what gets measured gets done.   There is some truth here.

They do not wholeheartedly believe in the process or see challenges with it…or they feel like their concerns are not heard This is a commitment issue NOT a training issue. Trainers can train people to do “X” but if people are not adopting, it is a change management issue. You need to go back to the people and get them aligned before training will work


We are too busy! This is a time management and Priorities issue. Training will not resolve this.
We are not rewarded for performing well (or we are punished with more work)


There are no consequences for non –performance so we do not see the point of performing.

People want incentives. If learning a new skill has the perception of more work, more pain and less support, no one will want to do it.

Why should I work longer, harder or with more effort if it makes no difference in my career path?

We need to do more work with fewer people. Make sure resources are aligned. Smart people can do a whole lot, but not without the right resource alignment and that is something that cannot be trained away.
The job just is not the right fit for them but they keep trying, so let’s train them until they can do it. Ummm….NO! This is poor thinking. Help manage them into another career path. No one should ever be working in a role where they feel unsuccessful all the time. Training cannot help this.


A couple more bonus points for your reading pleasure:

  • If the problem is cultural- Training will not help.
  • The Client does not always have the solution – even though they think it is training:

From a training perspective:

  • Help me understand the problem
  • What are you trying to change and how will the departments performance improve by training people (what are the objectives)
  • What are the most common mistakes and what do they need to do differently?
  • Why are they not doing it?

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