All too often in today’s work place I find that “training” is replaced by regurgitation and childish exercises, no doubt intended to refresh knowledge and improve understanding but with the only results being that those taking part feel patronised and uninspired.


The current, and all too long running, fascination with acronyms is a great example of what is wrong with large industry and their training methods. Having been in a working environment for longer than I care to remember I have had the unfortunate pleasure of having more acronyms than I can count forced down my throat. In the service industry these mostly focus on how we can engage with our customer in the front line roles. Without exception the dozens of acronyms you will hear have a central theme, CONVERSATION, it’s basic and fundamental in all front line exchanges and perhaps because of this it is unfashionable!


Why must a worker be able to tell you the meaning of a letter in an acronym before they are deemed able to have an acceptable conversation?


Why must there be so many variations on a central theme that invariably get lost in translation?


Why must we over complicate something so simple?


Is our obsession with “training techniques” and “formulas for success” really achieving the aim of improving individual’s competency? Or are we simply succeeding in creating a generation of employees who no longer have basic conversational skills and rely on robotically programmed responses to taught scenarios. Can we now look at our service industry and make genuine comparisons with an automated factory production line? Front line robots being controlled by master robots and those in turn being programmed through a single computer programme. While some may find this insulting, I would ask them to think about their last group training session and see the truth in the statement.


So how do we fix this problem? What can be done to ensure that training either individually or as part of a group actually succeeds in it’s over all aim?


The answer, as so often, is in the question.


People are individuals. We are all different, from varying backgrounds and have had different life experiences. How then can a “one size fits all” approach ever be expected to have the desired results. These differences must be nurtured and praised, for it is through these that we truly establish effective communication and rapport. Having a conversation should be the most natural of things and when done in a style that the individual is comfortable with, so long as they understand the aim of that conversation, will result in a far more effective and enjoyable experience for all concerned. Our training should then reflect this and be tailored to bring out the best in the individuals being trained. Not to train these individuals to become part of a collective consciousness without the ability to think for themselves.


Please do not misunderstand me, I am fully aware that in order to get across a mass message occasionally these methods are an unfortunate necessity. That being said, surely the use of acronyms ceased being of any benefit in high school (or before), when learning was less about free thinking and individuality than it was remembering what teachers had advised us would be an acceptable answer to pass an exam.


This is also not an attack on those providing the “training”, I am not a fan of shooting the messenger. Those poor soul’s are after all only doing what they are told they must (being programmed). It is not their fault that the materials they are forced to use are not fit for purpose and that even more fundamentally they are not allowed to deviate from them. It should also be pointed out that this lack of adequate training methods does not stop at the front line. With this being the case and with those people providing the “training” not being supported or trained sufficiently themselves, how then can we legitimately expect the “training” they provide to be of an acceptable standard.