Despite all we know in the field of performance improvement about the importance of assessing performance needs upfront, I'm amazed that organizations - even very notable organizations - continue to waste so much money on unjustified training.
Case in point: With four other trainers, I just facilitated a day of leadership training for a high tech company that brought together 125 of its marketing people for one giant "sheep dip." I did so at the request of a good friend and colleague who was the prime contractor on this engagement.
For my group, 25 signed up, 20 actually showed up and 15 finished the class. Despite my best efforts to make the content engaging and interactive, one-third of the group had psychologically "checked out" by the end of the day since the course focused on skills they believed they already possessed.
Such a tremendous waste of time and money, as well as the opportunity costs that participants incurred who should not have been there. With so many participants checking out, I cannot imagine that this organization will attain any significant return on the huge investment they made in this event. I'm afraid that little to no transfer of training to actual on-the-job performance may also damage the ability of this part of the organization to gain support for future efforts to develop its people.
Even a simple needs assessment performed upfront could have made a huge difference in focusing this opportunity for skill development on the individuals who most needed it - as well as identifying the organizational barriers that might prevent these 125 marketers from actually applying their leadership skills on the job.
© 2014 Kevin Nourse, PhD