Friday, October 31, 2008


One of the results of the bad economy is the negative impact on training. The more people I speak to in large companies, the more I hear about training staffs being cut.

While there will always be a place for “hard skills” training, even if it takes the form of on the job training, the days of “soft skills” training in large and small companies alike, are growing short.

Based on my experience, training from videos and pre-recorded material on-line doesn’t work very well. When individuals know they can watch again, when there is nothing live going on that requires immediate attention, when there is no interaction between instructor and participant, there is a tremendous amount of inattentiveness on the part of the individuals watching the training.

I know what some of you are saying, “That’s why we have the participants take a test after they watch the training, to ensure that they pay attention.”

Well, if you read my previous blog, “THERE IS A RIGHT WAY AND A WRONG WAY TO TEACH WORK READINESS”, you already know that basing the success of “soft skills” training on the results of assessments tests is a mistake. The goal of “soft skill” training is not to provide knowledge; it is to have the participants practice good work readiness behaviors and improve their job performance after they complete the training. The key to getting someone to improve/change is for them to understand why a behavior is important to their employer. Often that fact is driven home by using real life analogies. That is the approach I took in my work readiness book, “How to Get, Keep and Be Well Paid in a Job”. Click here to find out more about my book which received a five-star review from the Midwest Book Review.

Therefore, I will go so far as to say, err write, requiring that the viewers of a video training session take an assessment test often results in the most important parts of the video training being ignored by the viewers. Having an assessment test after the video for “soft skills” training only ensures that viewers concentrate on the facts and take good notes so they can pass the test. Instead you want them to be paying attention to the entire lecture so that they come away understanding not only the facts, but why those skills/behaviors are important, so that the training can result in positive changes in your workplace.

So if taped/pre-recorded training sessions do not work, and training staff and budgets are shrinking what is the answer?

Live webinars are an excellent solution. In live webinars, viewers must pay attention the whole time or they will miss information. There is no fallback to rewind or replay the taped session. In addition, with a real-time chat room, and live polling questions with instantaneous results, the audience can be kept involved. In fact, when used right, the polling questions serve as feedback for the instructor to know when to stay with a topic that the group is not grasping a little longer. A good instructor does this all the time in live, in-person, classrooms. This can not be done, obviously, in taped and pre-recorded training media.

Finally, another trend that could arise, especially out of a poor economy, is that “soft skill” training falls on the shoulders of individuals, to improve their value, rather than on businesses, that are struggling to keep costs low. In these cases, live webinar training is very assessable, and affordable to individuals. Taking live workplace, self-improvement webinars, will not only improve a worker’s performance, but the initiative will impress the boss; whether yours, or someone with whom you are interviewing to get a job.

Towards that end, I am in the process of changing how I deliver my training programs. I have invested in a webinar product, and will be rolling out a series of affordable webinar training sessions in late November, or early December. Check back here for more information in a couple of weeks.