Why do Training Programs at Organisations fail?

Posted in Human Resources Articles, Total Reads: 2437 , Published on 23 October 2013

Let us begin by considering this scenario, a customer satisfaction survey is conducted and the inference obtained is that, the managers in a particular division of the organisation are not able to  handle change and the customers are dissatisfied as a result. Then, a training program is initiated, a lot of investment made and the training is conducted. In the next half year it is found that there is even lesser satisfaction among the customers and even more complaints.

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The reason behind this unexpected outcome from a training is not one but a handful.

Reason #1 – Lack of proper training needs analysis

When an irrelevant training is prescribed for an employee, he would be dis-interested and his lack of interest would be contagious. It would make the training program meaningless to the other trainees who might have actually benefitted out of the training.

Training requirements are not always generated after an exhaustive training needs analysis. When we discover that the performance of an employee has not met the standards, the organisation should first make an effort in understanding the skills that the employee lacks before scheduling a random training program as a quick fix. A one-size-fits-all training program would be a waste of time and other resources. A detailed investigation needs to be conducted to find out the reasons for the discrepancy in his performance.

Training needs can be identified by religiously carrying out a Competency assessment exercise every year, to understand as to where the employees fall short of the management’s expectations. The Competency Gap should first be identified. Apart from this, training needs may also arise when there is a change in the organisation’s processes or when new machinery are installed. Performance reviews could also be a valuable source for identifying the needs of the employees.

Reason #2 – Lack of Communication

I once had the opportunity to work at a manufacturing company for a HR project. I came to know that unless it was explicitly mentioned to the workers that they would be undergoing a training, they did not realise it. They were not aware that it was a training program conducted to improve their skills, the workers assumed it was a meeting conducted just as every other day.

The importance of communication cannot be stressed enough. The Training and development team should communicate about the available trainings and their schedules frequently to remind the trainees about it, atleast thrice before the actual date of the training.

Reason #3 - Compulsory Trainings

The HR manager incharge of the training and development would at times, make the enrollment of trainings mandatory. One of the reasons, may be, is the pressure from the upper management to train the employees on a particular skill because the results of that quarter were bad. The assumption that the lack of that particular skill is the reason for low performance is the key reason why trainings do not have any impact or, at times, have negative impact. The onus of convincing the management by suggesting the right training lies with the HR manager.

And also, an initiative needs to be taken by the T & D team to understand the existing skills of the employees to structure and suggest a career path that they could pursue by acquiring new skills. By communicating about the different career paths that they could pursue, they are actually opening new doors of opportunity for the employee. Now when the T & D team offers those corresponding trainings, the employee would out of his own accord, volunteer for the training. This approach would enable the organisations to support more job rotations and the employee would also be empowered and enthused about the idea, because he could pursue his aspirations and not just do mundane activities.

Reason #4: Training effectiveness is not measured

The training and development cycle does not end with just conducting the training program. The effectiveness should be measured to find the business impact it has created. A few metrics to evaluate the effectiveness include:

  • Cost per employee per training
  • Ratio of the Number of customer complaints before and after training
  • Number of employees who enrolled Vs. Number of employees who attended the course fully
  • Employee job satisfaction before and after training
  • Increase in individual appraisals after training
  • Long term change in Organisational Value before and after trainings

Design to make trainings effective in organisations


Training and Development cannot exist as an independent entity. To make trainings at organisations effective it should be permeable to receive and give information to the other sub systems like Recruitment and Performance Management and utilise different metrics to constantly evaluate the effectiveness of each of the training processes.

The article has been authored by J Diana Cecil Christina, LIBA Chennai.


  • Effective Training: Systems, Strategies and Practices by Nick Blanchard and James W Thacker
  • Training in Organisations by Irwin L Goldstein
  • Evaluating Training Programs by Donald Kirkpatrick and James D. Kirkpatrick


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