September 24

Are you training for Competence or Compliance?

Are you training for Competence or Compliance?License

The way I see it, most organisation provide training for two reasons.

  1. Compliance to meet their statutory and legislative requirements; or
  2. Competence to increase skill levels and productivity.
    and of course, a mixture of both.

Sure, we all have social and moral responsibilities and like to develop our people. As Jim Collins says, your first job is to develop yourself. Your first job as a leader is to develop the people around you. But I think its fair to say, our motivations for training fall into the areas of Competence and Compliance.

And my observation over the past decade or so, is that we are focusing on Compliance, at the expense of Competence. And lets be honest with each other, just because someone complies, it does not make them competent.

Ask anyone in the mining industry for example. There are plenty of people with tickets and qualification for driving big yellow trucks, who can’t actually do what would reasonably be expected of them as a driver.

People who can “drive them”, but not “operate them”.

And this is across the board. We all know stories or have personally experienced training days where the trainer gives you the answers along the way, tells you whats going to be in the assessment, or works with some of the people who are struggling during or after the exams to ensure they pass.

Whats wrong with accepting some people pass, some people fail.

I recently inquired about getting my Motorbike license. One 6 hours course on a Saturday morning, and I’d be not only competent but also licensed to ride a motorbike on the road. I’ve never ridden on the road before, and I haven’t ridden a motorbike for nearly 20 years.

Really? It takes a learner driver 100hrs to learn to drive a car in Queensland, but in just 6hrs I can master a motorbike?

And are our trainers really that good that they can get all their students passing? (I was assured that I’d pass my motorbike test at the end of the program).

If we insist on passing everyone, how can we really tell which of our trainers are doing a good job.

Training over the past decade or more has become more about issuing tickets and certificates than it has been about delivering real competence and this is evident in our declining productivity rates.

Most trainers and training providers will agree with me (though most will protest not in their classroom or business). But I mean, lets be honest, when was the last time you seen someone fail a training course or program?

One of the clear benefits of online training, is there is no fudging the figures. Appropriate content is either delivered effectively or not. This can be measured because people either pass or fail with automated assessments. And given the superior audit trail, you can make sound, consistent changes to both content and assessment to improve outcomes.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t believe we should be creating training that is so hard that nobody passes, or so difficult that it discourages people from learning, but I do believe we have to reconsider the value of training for trainings sake and issuing certificates just to make sure we all comply.

To increase productivity (and ultimately profitability) we need to be training for Competence not Compliance. And we should be hard markers.

This is why I am a firm believer of creating your own training courses, covering the material, expectations and outcomes that are important to you and that ultimately are going to add value to your business, and the trainees knowledge base and skill set.

And where we are going to insist on training for compliance, and I don’t argue that thats not necessary, lets get real about it, and make sure the person is both Competent and Compliant, not just one or the other.

So what do you think? Am I being too hard or short sighted? How do you handle this in your business or organisation? I’d love to discuss it more.

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