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<i>Dear Workforce</i> How Do We Overcome Resistance To Training

January 23, 2002
QDear Workforce:

As a new trainer for our company, how can I reach managers who have been withthe company for many years and appear resistant to training? Many of them saytheir departments don't need any training.

- Encountering resistance, trainer, hospitality, Niagara Falls, Ontario,Canada.

A Dear Encountering:

Many times managers resist training due to an unhappy personal experience orpreconceived assumptions about training. Your first task as the new trainer maybe to address these concerns head on.

We suggest that you first choose a resistant manager who may seem a littlemore open to the idea of training, or with whom you have an otherwise strongrelationship. Meet privately with this manager to discover the needs of thedepartment. By asking probing, non-judgmental questions, you will almostcertainly find that the manager does have specific needs for his or heremployees. These needs may be in people skills, job-related skill sets, generalwork habits or in other areas.

Once you have identified these needs, it is your job to illustrate to themanager how some of those needs could be met with tailored training programs. Wehave found that initially you can expect to see some skepticism. However, muchof this reluctance can be resolved by working through the manager's concernsregarding scheduling and "wasted" time. Facilitate a discussion thatshows improved department efficiency and performance as a result of the trainingyou are planning.

Choose a particular need that you know can be easily addressed throughtraining. (Hint: choose a knowledge or specific skill-based need, not anattitudinal one.) If you have chosen and prepared well, the manager will see theimmediate results he or she needs. Make sure to involve the manager in thetraining and in its design. Conduct the training, get your deserved positivefeedback from the manager, and watch the other resistant managers change theirtune as word spreads of the effectiveness of training.

SOURCE: Robin Bruins, senior human resources manager, Personnel ManagementSystems, Inc., Kirkland, Washington, July 30, 2001.

LEARN MORE: See "Goodbye Training, HelloLearning," which discusses how organizations are changing their approach toskills development.

The information contained in thisarticle is intended to provide useful information on the topic covered, butshould not be construed as legal advice or a legal opinion. Also remember thatstate laws may differ from the federal law.

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