A large proportion of organisations opt to send employees to externally run training courses, when they want employees to learn new skills. This training can take on a variety of forms, it may be related to leadership development, new “hot skills” such as Agile or Design Thinking, or more traditional technical skills courses. However, the results of these training programmes are often questionable. Sure, employees may get a shiny new certificate, but there are very few corporate success stories of these external training courses delivering substantial change within an organisation.

Cultural Context

The key reason for the disconnect between external training and internal application is that they usually do not provide context for how to apply the principles learned internally within an employee’s specific organisation. For example, I have seen leaders attend Agile training, but then they go back into an organisation where everything is top down and micromanaged, and they don’t see how they can begin to apply those principles. They may understand the concept, but if their boss thinks everything should be top down, centrally owned, and micro-managed, how do you implement agile in that environment? This is where the benefits of internal training come in. Although the training may not be as academic and structured if run internally, there is a key advantage in that the training will be practical and allow employees to understand how to apply this within the organisation.

Employees Training Employees

With internal training able to accommodate for internal organisational culture, it also allows for the trainers to also be more relatable. This is because an organisation should use its own employees to run the training sessions. Internal training should use real life examples, problems and challenges that the employees face on a day to day basis. The trainers should then be other employees that have successfully overcome these challenges. By using existing employees to train, they can articulate the exact skills and methods that have used to deliver the required results. They will be able to do this effectively using internal language and dynamics to plot a clear path for other employees. It also gives employees confidence that the desired outcomes can be achieved, because one of their colleagues has already done it.

Ensure there is follow up

Finally, it is incredibly important that there is a clear follow up strategy and plan in place for execution once the training session has been completed. Far too many HR teams facilitate a workshop, and then never follow up on the session. They often say, “well they should know as we have trained them”. This is completely unrealistic. If you go to a group of people who have done things a certain way for a decade, spend two hours showing them another way of doing something, and then just expect them to start doing it, you are deluded. It is never going to happen. Instead, there needs to be consistent follow up and a clear timeline for implementing the new ideas. If there is no plan, there will be no action.