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Training – Undefined!

“I am going to conduct a training program for employees of one of the business house of Nagpur. I want to distribute a training kit at the end of the training session. Can you please tell me as to what all materials should be included in the training kit?” (Quoted as received)

This request was posted in a forum of trainers on Yahoogroups by the Founder – Director of a ‘training institution’ … Isn’t that so inspiring?

At its website this training outfit has listed dozens of training programs as “solutions” offered in their portfolio.

–          What level of credibility would they have in the organizations where they have conducted training?

–          Will their programs make any kind of impact?

It is not difficult to imagine that this Founder – Director would wonder later on why they weren’t given a repeat assignment?

In India such incidents are commonplace – the forums where I have subscribed would regularly feature requests from TRAINERS:

–  “I have been asked to conduct Communication Skills training – can you suggest the program outline?

–  “Please give me a PowerPoint and Workbook for a Selling Skills training.”

–  “I am doing a Negotiation Skills training – I need activities to conduct during the program.”

Usually it’s a request, but I have also seen suggestions and firm demands without any courtesy. And the request comes without defining the audience or industry. Maybe I am wrong, but they surely believe that one-size-fits-all.

How can such an individual be expected to conduct an effective training program?

Like in the case of many sectors in India training too is happening in an unregulated environment:

–  There are no certifications needed to be a trainer: It’s not that there aren’t courses – a number of institutions offer certification courses, but getting certified is not mandatory.

–  The courses offered for training aren’t verified and there are no guidelines for the design and delivery of courses.

–  The effectiveness of courses and the trainer’s ability to deliver the content are rarely verified.

Usually, the request of the kind mentioned at the top comes from a young person appointed as trainer (having has no formal  experience in training) or someone who has been asked to conduct training as an additional assignment. But I have seen requests from senior professionals and even teachers.

The training domain is filled with practitioner’s with little or no experience – to add to it the training role is usually the last resort for employees who are not performing to expectations in the role they were appointed (like a Sales or Service Executive who is not able to cope or has missed targets regularly).

A lot that’s happening under the heading ‘Training” has no right to be classified thus; so many who are posing to be “Trainers” do not deserve that exalted status.

There is need to define the role of trainers and the conduct of courses in this country. Who wishes to join this crusade?

  1. vijay
    January 8, 2013 at 8:44 pm

    Very valid point made here, and amazingly so many organizations also fail to check the trainers credentials and the result is the training programs do not achieve the objectives they are supposed to achieve. I think organizations need to ensure trainings are delivered by certified trainers.

    • JayadevM
      January 8, 2013 at 8:58 pm

      Hi Vijay

      Absolutely! That is the path forward for robust growth of our profession. Development of the participants, returns for customers and credibility for the trainers would be the result.

  2. jamylat
    January 9, 2013 at 1:57 am

    I have seen some awful trainers in the hospitality industry and have been very vocal about their weak credentials; anyways,very critical issue and needs to be dealt with at the grassroots level. The wannabes need to be identified and put in their place. Not every Tom, Dick n Harry can be a trainer- it is a speciaiist position and should be given its due by HR and the other think tanks in management!! Very relevant piece Jay!!

    • JayadevM
      January 9, 2013 at 6:14 am

      Hi Jamy

      You are in disguise today? 🙂

      The comment has come from a different ID and so its awaiting my approval. Your comments are very relevant and HR really needs to take such an approach. But with great sadness I have to report that training is purchased in India like groceries, so they go for the lower price rather than best quality. So there are a lot of quacks, wannabes and interlopers getting work under the head “Training” – and the profession takes a hit because everyone is measured with a single yardstick.

      Thank you!

  3. jaishvats
    January 9, 2013 at 2:42 am

    Training is at a corporate level where the audience would have some amount of prudence and ability to judge which material being given is really worthy….Imagine the state of some of the teachers in our country at primary and secondary level schools Jayadev…! Thats still worse!!

    • JayadevM
      January 9, 2013 at 9:51 am


      Many organisations do training to complete an activity, not to achieve results – so for them a person who would come in under the tag “Trainer” and does something at the lowest fee is enough – price is the number one criterion. So, many “trainers” get away with shoddy work.

      But there are famous international names too (I shall not name them here) who call themselves Motivational Speakers / Life Skills Trainers or something of that nature and do a lot of posturing and self-promotion – its more of a drama than useful stuff – the trainers get a feel-good pill, but its only when they think about it in an objective way that they realise its a scam – and they would have paid a huge amount to get the “audience with the Guru” who has trained “leaders from Fortune 500 companies”.

      All this gives training a bad name.

      Compared with some of these charlatans the teachers can be pardoned – but you are right in saying that many of our teachers are there because they have no other career option; its a last resort. They do not have training or the attitude to be teachers.

      A lot needs to change on the Learning front in India.

  4. Kailash
    January 9, 2013 at 9:53 am

    Sensible point J, When i was at one of our client site and My Project Management asked me to give some technical training on one Application Module for which i was not handling. They wanted me to do it so that they can save some cost of travelling right candidate just for the sake of training and they said ‘client ko kuch jyada pata bhi nahi hoga’. But i rejected it saying i’m not confident on that module and it’s a paid training for our client, we should delver it with right resources. It went to the highest escalation and finally we got it delivered by right person. And in the training the audience was having so much idea about the module (they have not used same module but similar one) and our champ from that module was almost sweating while handling the technical queries. The client was BSNL. Just imagine if i would have given that training they would have kicked me out on same day.

    So the companies which are hiring this trainers should scrutinize the team/firm to whom they are paying. As one bad experience for them and all the other good trainers/firms would be impacted.

    • JayadevM
      January 9, 2013 at 10:33 am

      Hi Kailash

      Brilliant example!

      Precisely the kind of end that is awaiting many of the “trainers” in the market.

      You did right in insisting on the right resource for the program. Well done!

  5. M.Swaminathan
    January 10, 2013 at 2:50 am

    Greetings! This statement fascinates me. From my humble experience as a professional trainer for over 15 years, I have observed that the training materials which are distributed to participants of the programme during the course of the training often gets stored by them in places which invariably they forget after few months. If internalisation of the principles of a topic and its effective implementation in the work space is what is attempted as the cardinal objective of the training, the training materials which are distributed to the participants should be the ones as follows:
    Case studies relevant to the organisations from where the participants are deputed to be designed incorporating / impregnating the principles. After administering these case studies and after their presentations and discussions, the trainer moderates and concludes the discussions emphasising the principles and the application of the principles in actual practice. A gist of these proceedings may be distributed as the training material to participants which would be more effective and functional. Regarding the academics part, a separate booklet on the relevant subject can be supplied which is comparatively an easy task.

    • JayadevM
      January 10, 2013 at 2:49 pm

      Hello Mr. Swaminathan,

      You have shared some useful points there – and I think you have rich experience in training.

      The focus of my article was not towards what is to be given during training although the question given in the opening paragraph spoke about it.

      My concern was that there are people with little or no knowledge posing as trainers and even seasoned and highly-qualified trainers get bracketed with them. The Trainer Community as a whole gets hit when someone does a bad job – and people who have no clue about how to conduct a training or what to provide during the course should be running training outfits or working as trainers.

      I am hoping to see more structure and quality in my profession.

      Thank you for reading my article.

  6. Ritu Singh
    January 10, 2013 at 3:00 pm

    Jayadev, this is a double edged knife.. there are many Trainers I know who are “Excellent” and 100% reliable in the results they produce but do not have the so called certifications. And then there are those who have certifications but are all humbug..

    The fact that often organizations just have a training conducted to complete a “to do” is a factor that encourages so called trainers who neither have the skill, requisite knowledge, nor the commitment necessary for the job – it is just a way to make money for them.

    Like a whole lot of other things what we need is a paradigm shift with respect to “training” – as individuals, culturally, as a nation, and as organizations..

    More often than not the passion to produce the Outcomes, and commitment to make a contribution, and experiencing the change one causes by conducting the training make even an un-certified trainer the best choice..

    • JayadevM
      January 10, 2013 at 7:42 pm

      Let me ask you this – Why do we need a Driving License to drive a vehicle? Isn’t it enough that we know how to drive? And in spite of having license don’t people still drive recklessly and cause accidents.

      The need for certification is to ensure standard practices, uniformity and quality. It reduces risk and adhocism. Of course, there is need to ensure that the definition are robust and sensible and there are levels based on need.

      A MBBS is not enough for a doctor to do a Heart Surgery – he needs further qualifications for that. And a Heart Surgeon cannot do a liver transplant – so a trainer who excels in one subject may not be effective in another.

      I agree that training is more about outcomes and business results than certifications. But ensuring that everyone goes through the rigour will help to tighten the process. If a certified trainer is not delivering results there is need to assess the Certification Process and change it. But I would rather do that than rely on an unqualified person.

      We live in a country which believes in Astrologers and Godmen more than Counselors and Consultants – in fact we would question the fee charged by the latter and think nothing about the fleecing done by the former bunch.

      Ritu, I have seen consultants from famous organisations screw up; I have worked under incompetent managers who come from the IIMs. I have also seen people with just a Commerce degree rise to great heights in organisations. But, aren’t we taking a risk by permitting anyone and everyone to take on a critical role, like that of a trainer? Isn’t going for a certified person the less risky options. Of course, diligence is needed in the choice of trainer.

      Ability is not enough, the person needs to be willing too – it is not enough that a person knows what’s to be done, he or she also needs to do it wholeheartedly, with the requisite maturity. So while choosing a trainer the organisation needs to check the person’s experience or attitude along with qualifications. If organisation’s do a shabby job deciding on the program content and on trainer choice the result would be far from satisfactory.

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