In Order for Corporate Training to Improve, L&D Practitioners Need to Lose their Snobbery

On a scale from 1-10, how much do you love to be informed that you’re doing something wrong by a cocky, snide, snarky, arrogant know-it-all?

Training Snobbery 1

There is so much work to be done when it comes to helping our colleagues and clients to improve their presentation skills. Over the past 15 years as I’ve worked in the learning and development space, one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned is that we need to meet people where they’re at.

Some people will be ready to jump right in, assessing the needs of their learners, organizing their thoughts with a presentation plan, then selecting the most appropriate visual aids (maybe PowerPoint, maybe something else), practicing their delivery and finally executing an amazing learning experience.

Some decision-makers will identify technology as the best solution to deliver differentiated, on-demand learning experiences.

Most people will need to be eased into this process. Here is a reflection that was written last year by one of my colleagues who truly evolved from SME to engaging presenter.

I’m not a heavy Twitter user, but I do follow several of the “big names” in the learning and development field. It always makes me uncomfortable when I read a tweet like this:

Training Snobbery

Why do we need to be snarky when it comes to trying to describe the motivations and mind-set of non-learning and development professionals? This particular message was tweeted during a recent elearning industry conference. The problem is that the question (why do people want classroom training?) was being asked to a room of learning and development professionals whose livelihoods revolve around technology and elearning.

If we want a non-snarky, sincere answer and true insights into the mindset of the people who actually approve and schedule classroom-based training, then we shouldn’t be asking ourselves why people might want classroom training. We need to spend time asking and understanding line managers, HR professionals and executives who request training sessions.

What are you doing to get a better understanding of the mindset of SMEs and others who deliver presentations and training in order to truly help them succeed? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below.

3 thoughts on “In Order for Corporate Training to Improve, L&D Practitioners Need to Lose their Snobbery

  1. Brian – I agree with your comments and am one who can get “snarky” both in twitter and in face-to-face communications (I’m not one to hide behind the internet). My snark, sarcasm, and/or most commonly expressed, incredulous-ness; stems from the inability of some L&D professionals who fail to ask the very question you are proposing. Classroom training is not evil, nor is elearning or technology – it’s the failure to diagnose the proper delivery method of a learning initiative. The failure to do a proper learning needs analysis, being a bobble-head does not do the business or the end-user any favors. The general acceptance and application of any learning solution without due diligence is doomed to fail. My concern has always been with those up and coming, that they are lead astray by well-meaning senior leadership or more senior L&D people who can only see one path, be it classroom or otherwise.

    All that being said, and more to the point of your post, I don’t believe we have to be mean or cruel in our comments and I do not advocate such bullying behaviors. I do believe in strong questioning and reality checks. Which I think the L&D community is lacking in general. Although admittedly, the tweet quoted above makes me shake my head. An unfair answer to a fair question.

    I hope the community of newbies will reach out to find the more forward thinking and creative L&D professionals in their networks, read more and do their own research when it comes to learning theory, methodology and delivery mechanisms. Lastly, if you see tweets, posts, etc., where you question the intent, it is up to all of us to call it out.

    PS. My twitter response to the above would have been: “Why be so mean? Question content to assess proper delivery, #NoSilverBullet”.

    • Thanks Shannon! Love the Twitter response at the end.

      I must confess that this blog post was inspired, among other things, by this post:

      I think we all get frustrated sometimes and my sense is that’s when the snarkiness comes out. I must confess that I wasn’t at the Learning Solutions conference and I don’t know the specific context of that one Tweet (I do think the author was making an attempt at wittiness and humor) and I don’t want it to seem like I don’t have a sense of humor… and I do think that underneath comments like that Tweet seems to be some sense of superiority. And THAT’S the thing that WILL turn people off and WON’T move the L&D profession forward.


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