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Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Training Cases of Dead on Arrival

I like to think that my job as a trainer is somewhat similar to that of doctors. They treat people in one way, I treat them in another. There are various solutions for various problems, but the intervention has to be right for the problem, or else the problem will just worsen. Some of their patients come dead on arrival; some of mine come dead on arrival too! Well, that is in a manner of speaking. They are of course alive but their state of mind sometimes makes me feel that they are as hopeless as those who come to hospitals dead! I wish too that there are clear signs that they are among those hopeless like no pulse or no heart beat, or no head… so that we don’t have to waste our time reviving them, but they hide under the veil of false interest. I hope they’d say at introduction that they are likely not going to learn anything so that I can focus more on those who are likely to benefit from the course… I suspect that if they do tell me they are dead on arrival this is how they will introduce themselves:

“Hi, my name is Brian, Brian Dead. I’m Irritated to be here. Leadership training right? I am here not because I want to, but because my boss wants me to! I clearly stated in the training needs analysis questionnaire that I am such an expert in leadership and yet there he went, enrolling me in this program. I mean what more can this program offer? I’ve attended so many programs in leadership and have known of so many theories and concepts about leadership that I think I can teach leadership myself. I think the reason why my boss sent me here is because he thinks I'm such a lousy leader. He probably asked my staff how well I'm doing and the traitors told him they're not happy with my leadership."

“Hi, my name is Chloe, Chloe Less. I’m NOT happy to be here! I was the best sales person in the company. They promoted me to leadership position and that's when everything started to crumble. I know this training will not help me, you know why? I don't want this job. I want to go back to selling where I'm really able to use my talent right."

“Hi My name is Kent, Kent Relate. I love to attend training programs like this. Its stimulating and self enriching, you get to learn about stuff such as leadership. You get to realize what you have been doing wrong all these time. It’s both a fulfilling and humbling experience… You know what my problem is? I can already see that I won't be able to apply most of what I learned here because my boss won't allow it. My staff will think I'm acting weird if I start behaving differently. So, as much as I will most likely appreciate what I will learn from this course, I'm too much of a wimp to make some personal changes."

“Hi, I’m Dead Tired. Of course that’s not my name! but that’s what I am right now… I had night duty and before that I had to do something else. I like so much to attend this training and know more about leadership but please if I fall asleep, wake me up. If you can’t wake me up, please tone down your voice so I can… I can… (snore)…”

“Hi, I shouldn’t be here! I have tons of work waiting on my table, is this a three-day training? May I be excused once in a while to check on my stuff? I haven’t taken any of my leave credits and I think I forgot to turn off the stove this morning! Hold on…(phone call) Of course, I’m on it. I just had to attend this training! What do you mean what am I doing here? Didn’t I just tell you? Hold your line! (another call)Yes ma’am? I am here in the training program you enrolled me in. What? I have to go back to the office after the session? I have to finish my report? But, but, but? Ok, yes ma’am I’ll go there right after the training… (to the trainer) Do you have training on stress management?”

I’m trying to be funny here but I hope you realize that these circumstances surface during training. I’ve seen too many of them! . Training is an investment of time money and effort from all those who have a stake in it, the participant included. To send people who are not training ready – those who do not recognize the need, those who are not right for the job, those who are not given enough chance to learn, is a waste of those precious investment.

I believe that those responsible for sending people to training has this difficult but necessary responsibility. In the case of my character “Brian Dead”, they need to determine if training is the right intervention for the person. In order to prevent cases similar to “Chloe Less”, they need to device a strategy for appointing the right person for the job. Interventions won’t make the wrong persons good at what they do. In the case of “Kent Relate”, a good support mechanism is necessary because training is a lot about change, when there’s none of it, there will be more people who appreciate a training program but will be afraid to apply the knowledge at work. In the case of my “dead-tired, and stressed out participant, managers must realize that the mental condition ideal for learning is one that is not too tired or too occupied with so many other things. After all, training is all about learning and not just attending. Some managers think that sending their employees to training will automatically equip them with the skills that they need, if they don’t get that they blame the program or the facilitator.

Let me get a bit more serious here… Covey said in his book 7 Habits of highly effective people that there is a gate of change in every one of us that opens from the inside. The training facilitator no matter how good in all his effort won’t be able to open it without our consent. It takes the right mindset and the right state of mind to learn anything… as they say…”when the student is ready, the teacher will appear…

Note: Many thanks to Eric Ingrum for the zombie photo.


  1. Alvin Abrantes5:13 PM

    As a sales trainer, I 100% agree with you Mr. Ebreo.

  2. Very well said though funny but its a fact.

  3. you made my day ed. this post tickled me dead . . . i'm 1,000% sure other trainers would agree, that you hit the nail "dead on the head!" heads up partner.

    dressed to kill

  4. Anonymous12:44 PM

    From Ceferino Dulay

    Such a depressing situation to be in for trainers. But it does ring some truth. I think the problem is that there are times when managers would send their people for training for so many reasons such as getting them out of the way for a while, sending them out for a respite from the daily grind at the office, giving them a reward for something they've done, there is an available budget and it would not look good if the budget is not used and many other reasons other than because the participants need it for their development so that they can achieve an agreed goal. The situation indicates an even more depressing reason: training programs are not aligned with organizational objectives with a clearly defined end result that the training should help achieve. In fact, there must be a valid reason why training is needed to achieve the end result. Unfortunately, managers and even training departments are not geared for such alignment resulting in such a situation. Training should not be the end result but should be the means to achieve an even higher end result such as productivity gains, better work relationships, better customer service, etc. In this way, we stop evaluating training results through Level 1 or 2 evaluations but go to higher evaluation levels such as Level 4 or even 5 (training ROI) and really contribute to organizational performance.


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