In-House TD Issues and What to do About Them

Most organizations today realize that learning and development is vital for business success. Every organization worth its salt has a Learning and Development ‘function’, ‘L & D Team’, or ‘Training Department’ and even fully equipped training rooms or ‘Training Centres’, with an allocated budget to conduct a wide range of training initiatives throughout the year in order to equip employees with knowledge and skill sets that boost productivity.

However, there are some common issues with these ‘Departments’ or ‘teams’ that I’ve noticed in my years of experience as both an internal and external practitioner.

  1. Lack of expertise

Majority of L & D team members, in most organizations, have little or no knowledge in organizational learning and development practices and are neither appropriately qualified nor credentialed. Members who are well-versed in adult learning theories or training design and delivery methods and applications are mostly non-existent! Training Specialists, Learning & Development Officers, and Training Managers appear to be simply ‘paper pushers’, whose working hours are filled with mundane tasks such as printing off attendance sheets and signage for training rooms, processing invoices, and drafting run-of-the-mill approval letters for outsourced training. The odd credentialed (senior) member seems to be often preoccupied with lesser impactful responsibilities such as monitoring the budget, reviewing training records, delivering status reports to leadership, and managing ‘the team’s members’ (NOT THE TRAINING EFFORTS). More often than not, the team seems to be either over staffed or under staffed; seldom have I come across an organization whose L & D team has just the right number of members to facilitate the department’s processes and tasks execution.

2. Inefficient training design efforts

It is the training design that guarantees training effectiveness.Needless to say, owing to the lack of in-house expertise, training design and development efforts that include the identification and analysis of learning needs, defining learning objectives, determining evaluation plans and criteria, finalizing learning content, and selecting delivery methodologies are largely restricted to ‘meeting’ with the employees’ manager who proposes a ‘program’ or ‘course’. The learners themselves are seldom formally engaged in setting their own learning objectives. More often than not, the external training provider proposes everything for the ‘identified’ program or course (NOT learning need) – from learning objectives and course content, to delivery methodology and evaluation plan – without even having a clear profile of the target participants – their existing skills, experience, role, and responsibilities. Learning results left in somebody else’s hands I’d say!

3. Inconsistent delivery methodologies

Quality and consistency go hand in hand. Owing to the outsourcing of multiple training providers (who in turn invariably hire the services of freelance facilitators to deliver training), learners are often subject to a hotchpotch of delivery styles and methodologies, especially with regard to instructor-led training which is the most popular delivery method here. Without clear agreements and directives on delivery methodology, every instructor brings their own house rules and ground protocols to the session. This, along with adjusting to the varied delivery styles, accents, opinions, personalities of facilitators could frustrate learners, who are already dealing with challenges associated with receiving information in a non-native language and unfamiliar cultural observances. This more often than not impacts consistency in the understanding of the message and attainment of overall learning goals.

These are just three of many other issues with in-house training functions that I’ve noticed from experience. By no means am I generalizing here; for sure, there are extremely efficient and effective in-house L & D teams I have the opportunity to interact and work with – but these experiences are more of an exception than the norm!