The Harsh Truth About Training

This month we’ve been revisiting my book, “Leading Change: How to Achieve Superior Results with Gentle Pressure Relentlessly Applied”. Today, I am focused on the third step, Training and Coaching. For context, the first two steps are a) Getting Agreement on Approach, and b) Metrics for Assurance.

Here’s the harsh truth: I wrote this book out of ongoing frustration. Sometimes, training doesn’t work. For a training organization such as The Mann Group, this is a sad reality. This book exists because I asked myself, “Why?!” We’re good trainers. Our content has been proven to work many times. We have credibility across many industries. So, why would our training (occasionally) not have any effect?

I’ve seen it far too many times. An organization will hire us (or others like us) to come into their company and “fix” a problem with training. Their reasons vary, but they follow a similar theme:

  • We need to increase our sales numbers; let’s train staff how to sell.
  • Our inventory levels are unbalanced and aging; let’s train buyers
    how to buy.
  • Our managers are ineffective; let’s train them how to manage.


Yet achieving such objectives through training doesn’t always work to instill the necessary outcome: which are the skills necessary to do the job. You see, the phase of Training and Coaching must be delivered—and received—in an environment of accountability. The other elements of Gentle Pressure Relentlessly Applied must also be present:

  • There must be an Agreement on Approach.
  • There must be the correct Metrics for Assurance.
  • There must be a Culture of Accountability.


Without engaging in these phases as part of your change management process, the Training, and Coaching can be offered—but not received or internalized. Yes, I realize that we haven’t talked about the Culture of Accountability this month, but although these phases are introduced sequentially, they ultimately must work in synch.

Of crucial importance is that the student must want the Training and Coaching. If this is not the case, both the student and the teacher are wasting time. (And this happens far too frequently.) This is why the Agreement on Approach and Metrics for Assurance phases precede Training and Coaching. These two efforts help create the gentle pressure needed for the student to desire the Training and Coaching. By aligning your team’s Agreement on Approach and showing transparency through your Metrics for Assurance, members will be ready and eager for Training and Coaching.

When someone calls The Mann Group and asks us to train their staff into proficiency, we tend to be suspicious….and we ask some questions:

  • What are you measuring?
  • What’s the level of buy-in from your team about your goals?
  • Who’s providing the follow-up?
  • Who’s making the hiring decisions - and is it working?

You see, if the student doesn’t understand the reason for the training or the value to themselves, you may not achieve the results you seek. When training is introduced to an environment where there are no measurements or follow-up, the training/learning becomes optional. Remember this, when you hire achievement-minded individuals, they want to improve and grow. So, not only must you foster a culture of accountability (next week’s topic!), but you must also have a culture of learning and development.


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