United States: 10 Mistakes Employers Make When Training Managers And Employees

Last Updated: November 11 2016
Article by D. Albert Brannen

Most people understand the importance of training managers and employees. However, experience teaches that some employers continue to make the same mistakes that undermine the value of the instructions they offer.

The purpose of this article is to highlight some of the most common mistakes so you can avoid them in your future training offerings.

1. Not training anyone

Of course, the biggest mistake of all is not training employees about the subjects that help them to do their jobs better and to stay out of trouble. In this same category, we could also include not doing enough training.

2. Not having the support of leaders

Top leaders need to endorse and support all of the training initiatives offered by an employer. Without this top-down support, attendees may not take the teaching as seriously, and the organization will realize less value from the training.

3. Not tailoring the training to the audience

To maximize effectiveness, training needs to be tailored to the industry, work environment and circumstances. The training must take into account the attendees' level of knowledge and experience and build upon that.

The education must complement the attendees' strengths and fill in their learning gaps. Tailoring the curriculum will help reduce the total time in training while increasing its effectiveness.

4. Not making the training interesting

Few things are worse than sitting through boring lectures. Training in the modern, stimulating world needs to be interesting, engaging, entertaining and interactive.

Effective education should be called "infotainment" — in other words, it should be both informative and entertaining. It needs to keep the attendees' interest so they will feel immersed in the topic and retain more of the information that is being covered in the training session(s).

5. Not including practical examples in the training

In the work environment, training needs to be relevant to the jobs being done by the attendees. The instruction must include real-world, practical examples and scenarios if it is to be of immediate value. Role-playing or workshops can be helpful but may be intimidating to some attendees, so the exercises must be fully thought out before they are included in the training.

6. Not conducting the training in a comfortable environment for learning

There is a saying: "The mind can only absorb what the fanny can endure." If the seating or seating arrangements in a training class are uncomfortable, the learning opportunity will be diminished. The same is true if the temperature, lighting or space are not ideal for learning. Having too many people in a room can also detract from the experience.

7. Not limiting the training to a reasonable time period

As with the comfort of a training room, the time of actual training sessions should not last for so long that attendees cannot pay full attention for the duration of the class. Learning is better achieved (and retained) in small doses rather than over an extended period in the same day.

If the education must take place in a day, break the day into many segments preferably of less than one hour each, if possible. Multiple-day sessions can also be a killer for retention of topics covered in training.

8. Not integrating the training into a comprehensive, regular program

Individual training sessions should not be rare and of the "one-off" variety. Instead, individual sessions need to be integrated into a comprehensive, programmatic training program. Ideally, there should be a preplanned annual education program, similar to an editorial calendar for a magazine or a course curriculum leading to a degree.

Integrated training helps achieve a synergy, in that the sum of the whole program has benefits that the individual parts may not have. Among other things, managers and employees will begin to understand that their employer cares about them and is spending time, money and other resources on their self-improvement.

Employees and managers are usually more engaged when they believe their employer is making such an investment in them.

9. Not conforming the training to applicable legal requirements

Training should comply with any applicable legal mandates. For example, some states — such as California require certain types of training, and the requirements are specific. Similarly, some federal agencies such as OSHA and MSHA require periodic training.

Instruction in these covered areas is useless if it does not meet these minimum mandated standards.

10. Not documenting the training

Since there are legal implications of training, employers should document the content of the course and that particular individuals attended the session. Cynical lawyers have a saying: "It is not about the facts, it is about the evidence." Others may say: "If it wasn't documented, it didn't happen."

These truisms only emphasize the need to document training when it occurs.


This article lists just some of the most common mistakes employers make when they train their employees and managers. Hopefully, you will try to avoid these mistakes when you plan your next training program or event, and you will realize the benefit of your investment in your team.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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D. Albert Brannen
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