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Corporate Trainers are on the Loose

I was having a meeting this week about the delivery of a CliftonStrengths workshop for the top leaders of a company. Somebody at the meeting tactfully implied that I mustn't do silly things or make leaders do things they don't want to. I was so happy at this comment because I have always been against this. I wrote a whole book about silly corporate practices.

Corporate trainers are on the LOOSE, and there is no help in sight.

The stories in my book are proof of that. The L&D community within the hospitality sector, especially in the Middle East, is infested with charlatans who cause more damage than good. They want you to have fun, not to learn something useful, and they don't even listen to their audience. Check the comment on my tiktok video about games and you will see how people feel.

Others walk around with a sense of entitlement and preach that you will be punished if you don’t do as you are told. I am not joking. My friend, who works for a global car company, told me that their corporate trainers report staff who challenge, or as they call it, “misbehave,” by asking questions about the applicability of their teaching. These reports go into their personal files and could end up with a warning letter. When my friend told me this, I didn’t want to believe her, but she is the head of HR and had seen it first-hand. FYI, she was new to the company and was trying to address it at the time.

The Damage L&D Can Cause is Sometimes Irreversible. The damage they cause me is that I don't want to attend any corporate training. I am always bored, and everything they tell me, I already know.

We have all seen the headlines:

"Corporate training is failing", accompanied by a list of reasons why it is failing:

- One-size-fits-all approach

- No time

- Training is completed outside of working hours

- Lack of interest or motivation to learn

- Information overload

- Content is disconnected from the real world

- Employees are told what to learn

- Misaligned organisational priorities and individuals’ development needs

All that and more!

However, nobody ever talks about the quality and suitability of L&D professionals. Most are unqualified and just fell into these roles because they were in HR or were departmental trainers at some point. Some might just like facilitating.

But L&D requires a high level of education, just like teachers, as we need to understand how people learn (not talking about learning styles.) and, in line with that, how to design content. To illustrate how important it is, I will give you an example; I was talking to a colleague who told me that out of 20 people, 2 or 3 managed to pass the exam for one of the courses the team designed. Now that is an obvious indication of a poorly designed and/or delivered training.

L&D needs to be able to create learning strategies, design e-learning content and be able to facilitate it and assess the outcome in a way that suits every participant. We must be able to push back, negotiate, and influence leaders, managers, and supervisors. We must be able to relate to entry-level workers and connect them with learning content in a way that makes sense to them. L&D must also be able to coach people from the top to the bottom of the organisation.

Unfortunately, this is not the case. Most of the time, L&D "professionals" are just good or bad facilitators of good or bad training. They are not qualified to design, facilitate, assess, and coach. Nobody listens to them, and development activities become a joke or a nice way to spend a few hours. I know L&D leaders who never read an article or a book. If you ask them about the latest updates in the world of learning or L&D, they look at you with wide eyes and throw out the e-learning concept.

So, what does a person do if he/she is unqualified for the role? They normally devalue the job to the point where they feel comfortable inhibiting it, and that's a serious problem.

What does this look like? Clapping, dancing, playing games, yoga, writing choruses and singing like choir boys during Sunday church? Or pushing out an insane amount of learning content without understanding the end-user experience or needs.

Enough of happy clapping and being an entertainer. We have serious duties and roles to fill. People want real help in areas that are important and relevant to them. They may need coaching, training, consulting, or just being straightforwardly told what they need to do. Sometimes people have no idea what they are supposed to do in the role they occupy. Sometimes they need guidance on developing specific skills, but they don't need L&D to organise that for them. Sometimes, they need a practical solution to their problem, not a ride on a merry-go-round of theories.

Enough of L&D being looked at as cost, annoyance, something that must be completed etc. Last year I took over another hotel, and one day, a participant coming to the session said, "Let's get this over with." I wasn't even upset with the person; I was concerned about the previous L&D for building a learning culture where people completely dismiss what we are about.

L&D has a crucial role in people's development. Unfortunately, it is not being taken seriously because of the people representing our field. So, stop dancing around in the name of learning and show what L&D is really about! If you cannot, then go and do something else useful.

PS: Here is an easy way to see how you are being viewed as an L&D person; If the most senior leader in your area of the organisation wouldn't come to you with his/her development problems or struggles, you are not fulfilling your role.

More about silly practices and what to do instead in my book:

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