By definition, training is the act of teaching a person a particular skill or behavior. Typically for employees to use in their current role or job. It’s different from development, which is teaching someone a skill or behavior usually for a future job.
If the company develops a policy then holds a meeting to communicate the policy, that’s not training. Don’t get me wrong, new policies need to be communicated. That’s a good thing. But again, it’s not training.
Now, if the company adds discussion and activities giving employees the opportunity to see a demonstration of the new policy in action and practice the policy in a safe environment…then that’s training. But holding a meeting where one person communicates a new policy or procedure, everyone else listens and we all sign a form saying we will adhere to the new procedure doesn’t mean training occurred.
Training also tends to imply that the subject being conveyed needs to be learned. For example if the company developed a new policy on expense reports, there might be a meeting to explain the changes but not a training session because everyone knows how to complete expense reports. However if the company starts using a brand new software program to process expense reports, they might have a training session because no one knows how to use the software.
I bring this up because I’ve talked to quite a few people lately who tell me “we conducted training” when the reality is “they held a meeting”. At the end of the meeting, the company has no idea what employees learned, if anything. And they get really frustrated when employees don’t follow the new policy or procedure. Follow me on this:
When confronted about performance issues, the employee says “I never got any training!”
The manager becomes defensive and says “Sure we did…don’t you remember that meeting a few months ago?!”
A-ha! The disconnect between meetings and training.
Training doesn’t have to be long or complex. It does need to give participants a chance to actively review the knowledge or skill topic as well as an opportunity to practice. When communicating information, the decision must be made if the content is to be communicated or trained. It not only makes a difference in the way information is shared but how it is received. More importantly, how it is retained and accounted for.1