Training does not imply learning

Simply following a training course does not mean that people will learn. Nobody knows this better than me. My first corporate training experience was a disaster and to this day, I still don’t know what I learnt.

In 2002 and after 1 year of maintaining an international Eurostar relationship, I moved to Belgium. Armed with my Philosophy degree, solid English language skills and 2 whole years of marketing experience (in addition to the arrogance obligatory for all 24 year old English men) I was sure I would find work in the European capital of Brussels. Why not?

3 months later and tired of moving boxes for a sports-article-distribution company, I took a job in a well-known international call-centre. During the interview they told me I was “team manager material” but I was nonetheless given the job call operator. Time for training!

For 2 months, I was subjected to the corporate torture of being talked at from 9am to 5pm. The subject: “Computers”. The learning objective: “Death by monotony”. Not a good start. Being English and being dissatisfied, I did the natural thing and complained. More on that later…

Now, if I am slightly more honest, I did learn 1 or 2 things, but nothing anywhere close to what was needed for the job and certainly not proportional to the 320 hours spent in what we came to refer to “the breaking room”. When I went live on the phone, my natural English politeness had been replaced by the standard bad-operator calling attitude we all know and love. And the level of computing knowledge required for supporting HP in their customer service activities had increased by approximately 1 bit (for the whole team). Fortunately for me, the calls didn’t come before I myself got a position as a trainer.

This story of bad training is slightly extreme and probably has more to with the lack of competence of my own trainer than with the method itself. But I still remain sceptical of the ability to integrate real learning with classical classroom training only and I continue to harp on about how things could have been so much better.

During the round-table meetings I have facilitated on the subject of Infinite Learning © I regularly ask people if they have already had training that didn’t lead to real learning. The answer is almost always “Yes”, even when the trainer has been informative, professional and expert in his field. The problem lies in one of two areas:

  • Either training was not the right approach
  • Or what happened before, during and after the training experience was ineffective

I am working on what can be done to improve things. But before we get to that and in case anyone is interested, here is my preferred definition of learning:

“Acquisition and integration of performance-driven competence”

…now, let’s make it Infinite!

Read the blog-post Infinite Learning © …a short intro

For more learning and development ideas, follow me on twitter or check out

Thanks for reading!

About Dan Steer

Wandering corporate trainer, learning and development consultant, conference speaker and professional El-Magico. I help people get better at stuff by creating and facilitating Infinite Learning © opportunities. The world would be a better place if everyone was doing what he loved and doing it well. I am working to bring out the "El Magico" in everybody. Training in presentation and communication skills, leadership, social media for learning and marketing, learning and development management + personal effectiveness.

Posted on May 3, 2011, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

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