Is Training Really the Answer?

Is Training Really the Answer?

The following article is courtesy of Instructional Designer Cathy Moore.

To evaluate if training is necessary, we need to answer two fundamental questions. Firstly, what is the goal and secondly what do people need to do to reach that goal.


The goal could be several things such as increasing the number of sales, reducing the number of errors in production, etc. It is essential this goal is SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-specific). And we need to identify the behaviours required to achieve the desired outcome. These behaviours can be determined by asking questions, such as: What are some common mistakes employees make? What do you need employees to do?


So once you have determined the goal and what employees need to do to reach it, you need to focus on the high-priority tasks or behaviours. For each task or behaviour, you need to evaluate why people aren’t doing it?


In Moore’s framework, she identifies four categories to why people don’t adopt new behaviours. These four categories are:

  1. Problems in the environment – Is it possible to do the new behaviour?
  2. Lack of skill – Can I do the new behaviour?
  3. Lack of knowledge – Do I know how to do the new behaviour?
  4. Lack of motivation – Do I want to do the new behaviour?


Unfortunately, even, the most capable Learning & Development practitioners cannot remedy environmental problems using training. The same goes for issues arising from the lack of employee motivation.  Training should only be used as a solution when there is a knowledge or skill gap - when people lack the information or expertise to perform a particular task. However, for knowledge gap problems you should first evaluate whether the problem can be solved using a job aid before deciding on training.


Consequently, if the job aid requires some further explanation or is not applicable, this is when you should consider designing training. To reiterate, before deciding whether you should conduct training or not, you should answer the question: is it an environment, skill, knowledge, or motivation problem? If it’s a skill or knowledge problem, then you can consider designing your training. Otherwise, it might be worthwhile identifying other, more appropriate solutions.  If you need help working out if health and safety training is really the answer in your organisation, please do not hesitate to reach out.

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Date Posted: 31 May 2022