Trainer Talk: Time vs. Results

It is not about how long training takesラit is about what the needed results are, what it is costing to continue to go without those results, and what is keeping the task performers from getting the desired results.

By Bob Pike CSP, CPAE, CPLP Fellow

How long should training be? Almost every time I lead a seminar in the U.S. I get feedback that trainers are being pressured to deliver training faster. If, as a trainer, you believe it will take three days to develop the needed skills and knowledge, you’re asked to deliver it in two. If it can be done in two, then do it in one. If one, then a half-day should do it. If in an hour, then don’t you just have a pill people can take? In the U.S., it seems, it always will take too much time.

I just returned from Saudi Arabia, and the attitude there is different. If skills and knowledge are worth acquiring, then let’s make sure they are acquired. If we have to travel, then let’s commit to a five-day course so we have a worthwhile investment in time and money.

What a different viewpoint! So which is right? What do you think? Do you get pressure one way or the other?

Actually, I just set you up by the question I asked: Which do you think is right? The way it’s phrased indicates there is a right answer, and there isn’t—at least not to that question. Henry Blackaby, co-author of “Experiencing God,” often listens when someone asks him a question and then responds with: “Actually, you’re asking the wrong question; the question really is…” So, dear readers, I just asked the wrong question. The question really is: How much training exactly is needed to ensure the desired results are achieved on the job?

And the answer to that question has multiple parts:

  • One part is the actual time needed to ensure participants have acquired the needed knowledge and skills.
  • Another part is to look at how people need to be prepared before coming to training to maximize the return on the time spent during training.
  • Still another is what needs to be done to get each attendee’s manager on board to ensure that the attendee comes to training with the right mindset—and that when attendees return from training, they return to an environment that sets them up for success in applying the skills and knowledge to achieve the desired results.

Asking the Right Questions

The key to all this is: “What are the desired results?” It is not about how long training takes—it is about what the needed results are, what it is costing to continue to go without those results, and what is keeping the task performers from getting the desired results (Hint: It may be less about lack of knowledge and skills and more about something else, such as improper tools, policies, or procedures that hinder performance, etc.).

We need to ask the right questions in order to get the right answers so we can produce the desired results. So what questions do you like to ask to help ensure your training produces the desired results back on the job? And what are you doing to measure the results? Share your thoughts with me by sending me an e-mail at As a thank you, I’ll send you a copy of my “Performance Solutions Cube.” It drills down on the five solutions to explore before implementing training as a solution.

Until next month—add value and make a difference.

Bob Pike, CSP, CPAE, CPLP Fellow, is known as the “trainer’s trainer.” He is the author of more than 30 books, including “Creative Training Techniques Handbook.” You can follow him on Twitter and Facebook using bobpikectt.

Lorri Freifeld
Lorri Freifeld is the editor/publisher of Training magazine. She writes on a number of topics, including talent management, training technology, and leadership development. She spearheads two awards programs: the Training APEX Awards and Emerging Training Leaders. A writer/editor for the last 30 years, she has held editing positions at a variety of publications and holds a Master’s degree in journalism from New York University.