Are You Making These Common Training Program Mistakes?

As we move into the new year, many industry forecasts are predicting a solid year with purchase money dominating the second half of the year. As a result, many executives are thinking about training their sales staff on purchase money techniques since the current market has been predominantly refinance.

Since I consult with lenders on best practices sales and management training, I thought I would share some insights about when and how training should be used. In a recent New York Times article, an interview with Karen May, Google’s vice president of people development, touched on issues that I see often. I completely agree with May’s comments which are excerpted below.

&#8226 What are some common mistakes you’ve noticed in training programs?

“One thing that doesn’t make sense is to require a lot of training. People learn best when they’re motivated to learn. If people opt-in versus being required to go, you’re more likely to have better outcomes.

“You can also influence people to come to training. If a group of people go through some kind of program, then you ask them to nominate someone who might find the program beneficial. If the invitation comes from a colleague, you have the peer-to-peer influence that says: ‘I got something out of this. You might too.’ This creates a much different vibe than ‘I was told I have to show up to this thing.’

&#8226 What other pitfalls have you seen in training?

“Don’t use training to fix performance problems. If you’ve got a performance problem, there is a process to go through to figure out what’s causing it. Training is the right solution only if the person doesn’t have the capability. But what I have seen…is sort of a knee-jerk reaction by managers to put someone in a training class if somebody isn’t performing well.”

&#8226 Before you joined Google, you were an executive coach. Are there any broad patterns that you’ve noticed?

“A common pattern I’ve heard is, ‘I’m doing what I’ve always done, and it used to work really well for me, but it’s not working anymore.’ People are often promoted because they’re great at something, and then they move into a broader role…and they haven’t learned the skills they need to be effective in a broader role. So where I ended up helping people often was in relationships with others, and understanding the impact they have on the people around them, cultivating some empathy, learning to listen, learning to work collaboratively.”

Do your training efforts align with May’s comments? If not, call me to discuss how to take corrective action for 2013.