What too many training professionals have in common with North Carolina legislators

The so-called North Carolina bathroom bill has been all over the news since it was passed back in March. Issues involving transgender people can quickly drive high emotions on both sides of the debate, but for the sake of a learning moment, let’s put feelings and politics aside for a moment. Here is how Wikipedia has recorded the history of this piece of legislation:

  • On March 23, 2016, the North Carolina House of Representatives held a special session and passed “House Bill 2” (the bill states that in government buildings people must use restrooms according to the gender on their birth certificate)
  • About 3 hours later the North Carolina Senate also passed the bill
  • That evening it was signed by the governor

Emotions were running high. Immense resources were mobilized. An emergency session was called. And a bill was passed with supernatural speed.

Yet, there’s no data to support the idea that this was an emergency or that it was a solution that solved any real problems.

A proposed solution, with no supporting data, seeking to solve a problem that doesn’t seem to exist.

The preceding sentence can also be used to describe too many corporate learning and development initiatives. Continue reading

Awareness Training vs. Performance Training

I’ve spent a lot of time this week curled up by the fireplace, reading a gripping, suspenseful, page-turner of a book entitled Performance-Focused Smile Sheets: A Radical Rethinking of a Dangerous Artform, written by Will Thalheimer.

Be on the lookout for a full book review once I’ve finished it. For today, however, I want to explore one specific area of the book that Will talks about early on: the difference between awareness training and performance training.

What is Awareness Training?

Will describes awareness training as conveying “information to learners but doesn’t provide sufficient support for remembering or on-the-job application.”

What is Performance Training?

Performance training “provides remembering and application support – and aims to improve on-the-job performance.”

As I reflect on the past several years, I’ve certainly been frustrated by how often I’ve intended to design performance training that demonstrates some sort of measurable return on the training investment, only to see the end result more of an awareness training that exposed people to concepts that they never ended up applying on the job.

Needs Analysis Conversations

Recently I’ve begun to ask¬†several questions when someone comes to me and asks for help designing training for their team or for a specific audience. Continue reading