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Are your managers on a hamster wheel?

September 14, 2013

I am not going to bore with you the same old stats and speeches about how many training programmes fail. But I will talk specifics. Over the last 20 years I have seen what will equate to millions of pounds being spent on training by companies and too often – this has resulted in very little change in the business.

It is not only frustrating but immensely disappointing for the stakeholders and the trainers – the former have invested in something that they believed would make a material difference and the latter will have a damaged reputation, even if the training was outstanding.

To really understand why so many training projects fail it is important to spend time with the people who actually have to implement the training. I will take the example of sales training. Sales are the life blood of the company, and in many businesses there are more sales people than anything else. These people make outgoing calls, take incoming calls or go out and meet people face to face. It is this group who pay the wages of everyone else in the business, so they are amongst the most important people in the business and need to be nurtured and loved.

The trainers come in to train whatever someone has decided is needed: closing techniques, selling digital products, increase average spend per customer or something that is ground breaking. If this training is for one day then there is every chance that they will be allowed to attend, if it is for more than that then there is every chance that their training time will be interrupted in some way by their manager.  The manager is not a bad person but is often a worried person. They are measured on revenue generated in that company, daily / weekly/ monthly or annually. They are trapped on a hamster wheel and it is very difficult for them to get off. Very often the sales manager was a sales person – a successful sales person who knows that the more people you call or visit, the more sales you will make. If sales people are taken out of the work place for training, then they are not selling and someone will have to answer for that. The sales manager gets caught up in panic selling at the end of the month to try and make the numbers, this leads to cheap deals being done and in turn undermines any quality selling that the teams maybe have been trying to get into place. The challenge lies in getting off the hamster wheel. The answer to this lies somewhere amongst: making the managers – at all levels- accountable for the ROI on the training, on empowering managers to make decisions about forfeiting budget achievement for a month or two and removing the fear of the big stick , changing the way that sales people are rewarded. Achieving this is where a company would do well to invest , exploring this at the very least should make its way to the Boardroom.





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