5 Management Mindsets That Kill Training

Learning 2

Allow me to give a “shout out” to some QBQ! training clients. Please bear with me, there’s an important message coming.

Dave Field of Interprint, Inc. in Massachusetts—2005

Debbie Slocum of Husqvarna Construction Products in Missouri—2006

Jeff Clark of Toshiba America Business Solutions in South Dakota—2013

Don Burstow of Burstows Funeral Care in Toowoomba, Queensland, Australia—2015

The dates shown denote when each client began using “Personal Accountability and the QBQ!” training.

I mention these executives because they do what most management folks don’t:

They select and implement a training program—and stick with it.

New research shows the corporate world’s investment in training is increasing. I use the word “investment” and not “spending” because training is an investment—unless it’s done wrong. Then it’s just a cost.

And take it from a guy who’s about to mark 30 years in the training field, there’s a lot of cost in this arena. The all-too-painful truth is this:

Most training fails.

In the Outstanding! book, there’s a chapter on why training fails and what makes it succeed and here’s a clue:


So, with that assertion in mind, let’s explore …

5 Management Mindsets That Kill Training

1. We need something new!

This past winter, a banking institution implemented our training with the entire staff. The client facilitated the program in-house and everything went great! But, the other day, they let us know that even though QBQ! was a hit, “we’re moving on to something new next year.”

Wait. What?!

So, what was valid last January isn’t valid this January? No longterm commitment to the material leading to much-needed retraining and repetition?!?

That would be like parents informing the child, “Last year we taught you about honesty, but this year we’ll be going in a different direction.”

That certainly wouldn’t be strong parenting, nor is it how we build an outstanding organizational culture.

When an executive’s “been there, done that” thinking gives him/her the attention span of a gnat, they end up training people one year on the blue program, the next year with the red program, and the following year it’s the yellow program!

This approach creates confusion at best and cynicism at worst. What does cynicism in employees sound like?

“Well, here we go again.”

“Why are they doing this to us?”

“Don’t worry, wait ten seconds and it’ll pass.” 

Management, stop pursuing what’s “new” and instead find and implement and what works. Then do this: Stick. With. It.

2. We trained, they got it, we’re done.

Ha ha ha!

Sorry to laugh, but to think anyone learns anything from a single exposure to content is the silliest notion ever. As we say in the QBQ! book, “Repetition is the motor of learning.” One-shot training adds little value to an organization. Remember, a strong culture is built by repeating our chosen values over and over and over and over and … well, you get the point.

3. The training is for others!

Just yesterday, Don Burstow sent this email from Down Under:

“Personal Accountability and the QBQ!” training will continue at Burstows next year as a core value and a personal challenge to each person—including me.

Don is a leader who understands that just because his name is on the door—literally—he’s not above learning. Plus, he knows that “modeling is the most powerful of all teachers” (also in QBQ!). Don sets an excellent example for all. Kudos to him.

4. Training is the training department’s job.

Wrong! My apologies to trainers and HR people everywhere, but training is the manager’s job.

Returning to the parenting analogy …

Effective parents would never abdicate their leadership role to teachers, youth leaders, and coaches. Right? Well, outstanding managers know their #1 goal each day is to develop their people, and that only happens when they own—and do—the training.


Each executive mentioned above has personally facilitated QBQ! training with their teams. Now that’s leadership! It’s also their job.

5. The consultant we hired didn’t keep the program alive.

This is nothing more than blame and excuse-making. Period.

No training program vendor, coach, or consultant can make a client keep an initiative in place. The outsider can visit, phone, email, message, text, or Tweet a client to death, but that won’t motivate the client to do anything they don’t want to do. If the commitment by management to make the training an ongoing process is lacking, then that’s that. It ain’t gonna happen. 


It’s my hope that as you read this piece, you picked up on the theme that training succeeds for the same reason it fails:


So, when it comes to training in your organization, which of our 5 costly management mindsets have you seen? Or, if you have a training success story to share, we’d love to hear it!

Comment below!

Enjoy this video of Dave of Interprint and Debbie of Husqvarna sharing how QBQ! training was implemented in their organizations!

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2 Responses

  1. Spot on John. As a Certified EOS Implementer (check it out) in day 1 of our training we teach our clients that if they commit to being their best, they must also understand that becoming your best (as an individual leader or an organization) is a journey and not an event. Part of that teaching is that the leadership team must become good parents to the organization by doing 3 things.
    1. Have a handful of rules you will never compromise for anyone or anything- these are your values in practice not the ones on the wall in the cafeteria.
    2. You must be consistent. That means you have to repeat yourself often. As we say 7 times before they hear it the first time.
    3. As leaders you must “walk the talk” which means your actions and decisions must be consistent with what you say.

    I love your message John and look forward to these weekly e-mails.

  2. Hey John,
    Great message. I have one other item to add to your list of why training may fail – process. Process eats culture and training and coaching and management for breakfast and still has room for a snack.
    I did leadership and sales training for 3 years and learned something really interesting about what was really happening once I was able to go and spend a few days just watching the staff actions at my customers place of work. I do work in the Financial Services Industry and so much of the sales training and coaching that I was teaching was just not sticking. Then I found out why – the front line staff were following a crazy complicated process working with several technology systems that did not play well together and also several websites (that also did not communicate with their internal systems) all right in front of the customer.

    The pressure was so intense to just make sure they clicked the right box on the right screen in the right order to confirm that the customer wanted this or that product it would be enough to make anyone’s head spin. To ask a staff person to do anything more than just get through the basics was asking them to lift the world. To ask them to cross sell or uncover additional needs or anything else other than just follow the process correctly was almost impossible. Since one wrong checkbox would crash the transaction and staff would have to start over again and of course also apologize to the customer for taking so long.

    Talk about a lot to put on a $9.00 hour employee.

    So as leaders I would make sure that everyone is looking at the process employees need to follow first. And if need be, fix it. Once you fix the process then there is room to add all the good stuff training can provide on top of it because there is room in everyone’s brain. If not, then even the best coaching and all the rest will fail because no one will have the brain capacity to do the other stuff.

    Anyway, thanks for the great article and allowing me to add in my 2 cents 

    Hope you are well and having a great day!

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