Workplace Training is a Waste of Time!

Workplace training is a waste of time

Workplace Training is a Waste of Time!

Yes, I know. It’s a rash statement, but hear me out 

Workplace training is a waste of time (and money) unless you take the time, and make the effort, to get it right. Let me explain what I mean.

It goes without saying that professional and personal development is a force for good:

  • It supports business growth as teams apply new knowledge and skills to their roles.
  • A flourishing talent pool enables organisations to better their performance and increase their competitive edge.
  • And developing or refining one’s skills-set responds to the need to learn innate in all of us. It increases self-confidence and engenders a sense of personal satisfaction.


So why is it that all too often, when the boss announces that everyone will be going on a fantastic new training course, a sense of inertia envelops the room?

Picture the scene. It’s early! Far earlier than your usual start to the day. You struggle out into the driech blackness of a January morning, heading for a part of the city you’ve never visited, to look for a building somewhere in the middle of a maze of industrial units. You arrive feeling rushed and stressed. Then you struggle to find somewhere to park (avoiding the newly installed double-yellows), and finally pitch up in front of a crumbling edifice of 1970s architecture. The training room is on the 6th floor (lift broken), large, square, with grubby white walls and a thin carpet decorated with a psychedelic pattern of stains. There are several rows of melamine desks, orange refectory chairs, and a couple of dog-eared flip charts in the corners facing the room…

Bars on the window?!

Then what? Well, you’re meant to settle yourself comfortably, free your mind of distractions and enter a state of readiness to learn!

What actually happens is that you spend hour after uncomfortable hour fidgetting on your plastic throne, whilst a bored instructor regurgitates their monotonous theory. You try, you really do. You take notes and ask the odd intelligent question. But the day leaves you exhausted.

Learning doesn’t have to be that way!


Even as adults influenced by memories good and bad (mostly bad in my case) from our days at school, we nonetheless retain the ability to be amazed by the discoveries that learning brings. As one awesome chap named Ian that I know quite well says “learning should be a lifelong journey of discovery, full of wonder and awe-inspiring”. All we need is the right mix of ingredients. A bit like a cake, there’s no room for soggy-bottoms.

A good learning experience begins with the instructor.


To paraphrase Ian, a good instructor is a person who weaves the magic at the interface between teaching and learning. A good instructor will respond to the individual learning styles of the group and tap into those individualities to enhance the collective learning experience still further. He or she will resonate enthusiasm for their subject and pass that energy on to those they teach, creating an immersive and interactive vibe within the group.

Next comes the environment.


Dispense with cold, impersonal square rooms that remind us of school classrooms. Throw out the rows of blank desktops that stare up in a threatening way when we enter the room. If possible, dispense with the walls altogether and take the learning outside. Okay, okay, that might be a bit ambitious in the midst of the winter squalls!

The point I’m making is that if you want to get the best ‘bang for your training budget buck’:

  • Choose your trainer wisely. Knowledge is not power – power is the desire and the ability to pass knowledge on.
  • Consider feedback and reputation. What are people saying? Is it things like ‘it was okay’ or ‘I learned a bit’ or worse: ‘at least it was a day away from the office’.
  • Ensure that the venue is comfortable and safe. Facilities such as parking, refreshments and outdoor space are just as important.
  • Above all make sure the environment inspires inquiry. What impression do you get when you walk into the training space? Is it inviting, does it invoke a sense of calmness? Does it have an unexpected, informal layout? Does it say ‘come in and join the conversation, let’s get to know one another a little before we start’?

Developing an effective, efficient and above all enjoyable approach to training your teams really isn’t that difficult. When all is said and done we are human beings with individual needs, enquiring minds, and innate abilities. If you can implement training processes that avoid herding your learners along a bland training conveyor belt, you’ll have a team that positively looks forward to the next session with their instructor.




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