Training can only be effective if these are addressed
A few years ago we were commissioned to do disciplinary enquiry training for a national company. The facilitator tasked with the training at one of the company’s branches which had recently been unionised, reported a problem. Employees were being represented in disciplinary enquiries not by one, or even two shop stewards, but by the whole shop steward committee! Not surprisingly, chairpersons felt intimidated and were having difficulty keeping order!
The local branch did not have a Recognition Agreement and there was no clear disciplinary procedure, so the practice of allowing all shop stewards into disciplinary enquiries had just evolved. This is an extreme case, but it is what one would call a learning, training or performance barrier (call it what you will). Without barriers being resolved, the training would not have been effective. We brought the matter to the attention of the client’s head office and then assisted the Branch Manager to negotiate a new agreement and disciplinary procedure. Problem solved!
Barriers to learning and learning transfer can take various forms
Learning, training or performance barriers come in various forms but have the effect of nullifying or greatly reducing the effectiveness of training. They can include lack of policies and standard operating procedures; outdated, unclear or inappropriate policies and procedures; faulty or ineffective systems; insufficient resources, including finances, raw materials and out-of-stocks (a common complaint of sales personnel); faulty or underperforming machinery; lack of management support and so on.
If a facilitator is good, learners will connect with him or her and sooner or later, they will bring up issues that they are having difficulty with. During the training, when barriers are brought up, the facilitator should make a note of them (use a ‘parking lot – the last page on the flipchart) and report on them after the training.
Roles in addressing learning barriers
Sometimes management is aware of the issues (barriers) and has taken steps to address them but often they are not aware of them. Sometimes learners are misinformed or do not have the full picture. It is therefore prudent for the facilitator to first contact the HR manager or the person who booked the training to verbally explain the issues that were brought up in the training.
If management was not aware of the issues and they are significant (like the example of the shop steward committee above) then after discussing the matter, a Training Feedback Report should be compiled by the facilitator. This should outline the issues raised in the training and recommendations on how the barriers can be addressed. This is critical to ensure that management is aware of the issues and a plan to address them is developed. This can enhance the impact of the training when learners see that their concerns are being addressed.
Removal of barriers can be very motivating
For example in one course a particularly disgruntled group of learners brought up no less than twenty five barriers. These were brought to the attention of the General Manager who prioritised them and put in motion a plan to address them. He started with the easy ‘tea and coffee issues’ which could be easily addressed and then worked toward the more difficult issues which would be expensive to address. Significantly, within three weeks more than half the issues had been resolved. What an amazing impact that had on the workplace!
When the facilitator returned to do the next course in the series, he was enthusiastically welcomed by the learners who were keen and motivated to get on with the next leg of the training!
Core responsibility of the training facilitator
Identifying and addressing training barriers is a core responsibility of the training facilitator. If you are contracting a training provider to facilitate training, make sure that the facilitator provides you with a Training Feedback Report after the training.
Bruniquel & Associates (Pty) Ltd
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