Why too much business training is like bad one night stand sex… and what Business Managers can learn from this

It’s something many corporate training organisations and trainers and their HR and learning – development opposite numbers and senior managers, in the businesses that employ them, don’t like to admit to or talk about.

A lot of business training courses don’t work.

And this undermines, too often in a self-inflicted way, the efforts of managers to drive their business to greater things. And it’s easy to understand why. Too much business training is like bad one night stand sex. You get together and go through the motions because, from the trainer’s point of view, they relish releasing all their nuggets of knowledge and then get more opportunities to do so.

From a trainee’s perspective, they are presented with an easy offer for something new and different, that they don’t have to pay for, that they also hope will be exciting and useful. But invariably it’s something they forget shortly afterwards or want to forget afterwards because either their heart wasn’t in it and/or because the trainer’s heart wasn’t in it either.

It’s hardly surprising that these often one-off training sessions are unsatisfying. There are two reasons for this: firstly, too many businesses don’t invest properly, if at all, in continuation training and refresher courses which is where the knowledge is really instilled in practice. They just put on courses because it looks good internally and externally.

And, secondly, there are training facilitators who don’t facilitate very well. These Facilitator Flops can include Perchers, Reciters and Over-Eggers.

The Perchers perch on the edge of a desk in a training room – I vividly remember one who was on before me while I was waiting, as a trainer, to go on to talk to a global group from a high profile law firm – and expound in that casual, sometimes smug way. He even had the hairdo to match.

There was no energy there. Just a slightly superior air. Knowledgeable though he was, his perching approach to training didn’t engage the audience as they had hoped.

The Reciters invariably cling to a lectern, a table – or both – or whatever furniture is to hand. They recite from very obvious paper notes and/or from overladen PowerPoint slides with more bullet points than a firing range. This is even lower energy and even more ineffective.

The Over-Eggers simply overdo things. They don’t rely on lecterns or places to perch because they’re too busy rushing around, pacing up and down like a ravenous lioness on heat. They talk loudly and frantically because they equate motivation and getting your message across with increased volume and high voltage body language. This can invariably be too intense, too unnatural and mask the useful messages they try to get across.

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I’ve seen capable people decide one day to try to inject some rightful energy and dynamism into their performance. Sadly, they have over-egged it and left people wondering if such trainers should undergo a pre-training session drug test!

It’s about being natural – one of the greatest and yet one of the most unrealized and underused qualities we have. Ironically, too many people, trainers included, find it hard to truly be themselves for fear that others may not buy into them. And when your personality and attitude are just as important as your aptitude, as has to be the case with trainers, coaches and speakers, some find it hard to know how they should act because there’s an added commercial pressure to perform so your clients get tangible value.

And that’s why the Perchers, Reciters and Over-Eggers react to this and resort to perching, reciting and over-egging rather than being effectively natural, nurturing and notable.

This is a guest post from journalist turned speaker, Seán Brickell.