Learning and Development, Horses, and Drinking

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If you work in Learning and Development you know how easy it is to invite an employee to attend a training course.

It can be hard getting people to attend training, and the wastage is costly and demoralising.

But it’s much harder to ensure that they accept, and even if they say they will, some still won’t turn up on the day. The wastage is costly and demoralising. It sends out all the wrong signals. Successful organisations succeed in creating a buzz around training, learning and personal development are accepted as vital for growth, of both the company and its people.

Senior abstainers

It’s disheartening when you put effort into sourcing and providing opportunities for learning and development, but people don’t seem to appreciate it. It also appears that the higher up the food chain you go, the harder it is to get managers to take training seriously, much less attend. The most senior ones are the worst.

The received wisdom says that “You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink”. The smart answer to this was always “Better to make it thirsty” (if your advertising is good enough people will roll up to training in herds).

But what if thirst is never something they worry about? It’s well known that if you don’t drink enough you lose the ability to recognise the signals. What if, in other words, the VALUE of learning something new escapes your target audience?

The answer is to create a culture (in the organisation) where PERSONAL GROWTH is valued, where individuals see the benefits not just for their work, but in other areas of their lives; they understand that the skills are transferable, and the benefits life-long.

The key to effective advertising is to “Sell the benefits, not the features”. Rather than pushing learning and development, maybe the answer is to inspire personal growth.

What do you think? Please share a comment.