The Hidden Costs of Poor Training

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Years ago, as I was just settling into my career as a Workplace Learning & Performance guy, I had a role as a Training Specialist for a major financial firm. I was assigned to provide support for a specific department within a call center. My job was to provide training for six teams that each consisted of about 15-20 agents, a team leader, and a coach.

I spent most of my time designing, developing, and facilitating training sessions on systems enhancements, policy / procedure, and some functional soft skills topics—effective negotiating, sales, customer service, etc. While I always tried to provide training experiences that checked all the boxes for a high-quality learning experience—proper learning objectives, relevant content, great activities, follow-up, and so on—there were many times when constraints resulted in poor training execution. During my three years in that role I noticed a few things that seemed to occur consistently with poor training, and every one of them had a direct impact on the bottom line.


3 Problems That Add Hidden Costs


1. Confusion

When learners didn’t have the time to mentally process and then practice with changes to their day-to-day work, they would return to their jobs and production would immediately come to a grinding halt. The confusion would usually run like this:

  • Wait…what? (talk to a co-worker about it for a half hour)
  • Recruit other team members into the confusion
  • Everybody starts taking a shot at what they think is right
  • Team leader gets involved and is not confident about the correct process
  • Training team gets involved for re-training or one-on-ones

The whole mess would result in a production loss of 30+ man hours when a 15-person team fell into this cycle for a couple of hours. Many times it was a lot higher. In a job where one hour of customer-engagement for one agent averaged revenue of $250, one incident like this could cost as much as $7,500 or more!


2. Lack of Adoption

Back in the day we were migrating from a green-screen mainframe system to a graphical user interface (GUI). The systems team was phasing the rollout by staging specific changes to routine user activities in preparation for the conversion. The training sessions were all about, “You’re used to doing it this way, but starting next week you’ll need to do it this way.” Because we didn’t have the time (or support) to develop any hands-on practice, learners left the classroom and quickly reverted to the behavior that was most comfortable; i.e. the old way. When the conversion finally happened many of these little changes that were never adopted resulted in significant roadblocks to the new process, which ended up requiring much longer training sessions to ensure adoption! The one-hour quick hits we’d done earlier became four-hour workshops. I can’t even add up all those dollars. This experience calls to mind the old adage, “If we don’t have the time to do it right, we certainly don’t have the time to do it again at more than triple the time commitment!”


3. Errors

Ineffective training interventions always led to errors which had a direct impact on so many levels. One example is compliance violations. If the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) issued a new rule about disclosures to customers in California, and our agents consistently failed to adopt the new practice the fines would pile up! In addition to that expense, the Quality Assurance teams who tracked such things ended up investing many more hours in reporting and remediation—which always involved us in the training department.


I could go on and on. In my experience poor training interventions always end up burning dollars that simply did not need to be burned! On the flip side, I remember the sweet satisfaction of success when we took the time to get the training right the first time. As practitioners in this profession we all know what it takes to ensure job transfer and behavior change! In our ongoing crusade for effective training, may we get the time and tools and tenacity of leaders who can blaze trails for us to do what we do best.


If you're looking for help creating training that works the first time, contact eLearning Brothers Custom Solutions. We're always eager to discuss ways we can engage and effectively train your learners.


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