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People are the problem, training is the solution


‘People are the problem, training is the solution’, if you are from this school of thought, you are probably still wondering why things are not changing even though your company has spent thousands or millions of dollars in training of people.


If you work in the HSEQ department of a shipping company, you would notice that more than half of the root cause analysis done on incidents result in identified “training needs”. After all it’s much easier to blame behavior and close the report by providing some training.

I remember one of my friends say, “we have milked this cow long enough.” During a discussion and I could not agree more.


Let’s admit it, while training has its own merits which cannot be discounted, it also has two big flaws:


One, training is reactive. Training is often identified as a measure to fill a performance gap.

Two, training is not the solution to all problems.

What do you want to achieve through training? Change people skills and personal behavior? Both these internal characteristics of an individual are hard to change as these are developed over years through personal experiences.

In 1978, Thomas Gilbert published Human Competence: Engineering Worthy Performance which described the Behavior Engineering Model (BEM) for performance analysis.

Gilbert describes six essential components (environmental and individual) of behavior that can be manipulated to effect performance: Environmental factors include data, resources, and incentives. Individual factors include knowledge, capacity, and motives.

Note that training addresses only one of the six components, i.e. knowledge. It is clear then that training is not the absolute solution to all performance related problems.

Bill Cushard, in one of his articles talks about behavior specific feedback and how feedback loops strategically placed in an organization’s culture can boost current job performance and personal development.


A post job analysis by everyone involved in a job is a great way to get instant, candid and constructive feedback which can result in fast and inexpensive improvements in performance.


On a similar note, asking for an ‘advice’ from a senior on how to get ahead in the organization will provide with the feedback/ information which you can use to change your behavior and achieve better performance.


Feedback could be the unsung hero to help learn and change behaviors.


Does your organization have feedback loops in place which provide instant learning opportunities?


Let me know your thoughts on how YOU see this.

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