11 Reasons Why Training and Development Fails


Performance gaps aren’t only about inappropriate work balance, weak technology, or poor work models. Sometimes, it’s about a futile employee training and development (T&D) strategy. This vital HR strategy is often a pattern of planned and unfolding activities that helps improve employee productivity to meet organizational goals. If done poorly, there’s a good chance of not being able to perform and meet organizational goals even after spending a truckload of dollars. 

In this article, I’ve compiled eleven reasons why training and development fails. Plus, appropriate tips on addressing each issue, to increase its efficiency.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why does a company need training and development for their employees?

With training and development, you get to upskill and even multi-skill your employees. You also provide career pathways for them within the organization and achieve greater consistency, productivity, and efficiency in completing daily tasks, meeting organizational goals, and sealing projects. 

Honing your employees’ industry-specific practices can also help to strengthen your reputation and give your competitors a run for their money. Training your employees greatly contributes to the all-round success of your organization. 

What happens when you fail to train your employees?

Failure to train your employees will result in low productivity and in turn, poor quality of work and reduced profitability of your organization. In extreme cases, employee morale can drop or an increase in employee turnover may occur. 

As you know, employees are an asset to every organization, and sometimes staff investment can be challenging. Nonetheless, employee training and development are vital to organizational success.

What are the key areas for development at work?

In the past, hiring employees was determined by an applicant’s reading, arithmetic, and writing skills, but that’s not the case in this new work age. Now, employees need to be efficient, productive, and adaptable in critical thinking, problem-solving, communication, and collaboration. Other areas of development at work include goal setting, adaptability, flexibility, and innovation.

Although companies invest a lot of money on training for their employees, setbacks are still likely to happen because 80-90% of acquired skills get lost or forgotten after a certain period. The issue of training and development failure is sometimes in the training technique and process. That said, here are the eleven shocking reasons why the training process fails, with tips on addressing each one to make training programs more effective.

11 Reasons why Training and Development Fails

1. Giving the right training for the wrong cause.

Most organizations do a lot of training and development programs for the wrong cause, as these programs lack a sense of alignment with the organizational needs. What does this mean? Well, if a workforce training program doesn’t connect to a business need, you should expect little to no improvement from the employees’ part. 

Using a training trend to tackle and solve the issue of job performance might not be as beneficial as tackling systemic problems within the company such as lack of reward systems, job design, and motivation. 

What to do: Make sure to review your organizational strategic issues and link your training needs to the objectives and evaluation of your organization. If your organizational issues circle job performances (a business goal), you should know that the training shouldn’t have to do with learning new skills (a learning goal). So, recognize your organization’s needs, the end goal, and the training evaluation that matches up with the goal. Sometimes, a little motivation is all your employees might need instead of taking up new courses. 

2. Lack of specific direction and focus.

Another reason why training and development fails is due to the lack of a defined focus and end goal of what the training program should achieve. A typical employee would normally go through the training program and think “now that this is done, what’s next?”. This exemplifies how important the “why” of the training is. Ideally, training and development programs should be a focused process that allows employees or leaders to concentrate on desired results. 

What to do: Design the training program to have a specific direction and end goal. For example, say you’re doing a business impact training, your end goal can state “decrease error rate on reports by 30% and increase the external customer satisfaction index by 35% in 2 months” These defined goals can help you know what you need to focus on during your training. Sometimes, general training covers a lot but makes less impact.

3. Not giving your employees the reason for the training.

People need to understand WHY they should be a part of something because we prioritize our engagements based on personal benefits. As a manager, not knowing the reason, blindly following trends, thinking your employees don’t deserve to know the reason, or having no time to explain, is bad practice. Taking the time to explain “why” will convince a greater buy-in and commitment to the training program.

What to do: Your employees need to know what advantages they could acquire from the training on a personal and professional level. Additionally, you can talk about the impact it would have on the organization’s growth. Let’s be honest, training costs time and commitment on the learners’ end. It also costs the company an investment of resources— both parties must be fully aware of what they’re getting into so it’s not a complete waste. 

4. Seeing training and development as a one-time event.

Changes as a result of training and development don’t come overnight, especially if you see your training as a one-time event or a three-day workshop. This is another reason why training and development programs fail. Holding a one-time training and workshop session for your employees has a low odds of changing behavior into a long-term habit. At best, it informs them what the training is about— it won’t generate lasting business results. 

What to do: Have a series of programs, with a pre-work syllabus and follow-up reinforcement that can help the training process and habits to stick. Imagine going to the gym every day for 2 hours, with a continuous process of working out, along with the proper motivation and support to build your muscles, you bet you’ll start to notice positive changes as opposed to going to the gym once in 3 months.

5. Insufficient time allocated for training.

A lot of people like fast results, even when it comes to workforce development. However, dedication, commitment, and time are important factors if you want training to pay off. Again, don’t expect to go to the gym once in 6 months a year and notice drastic change. There is no shortcut to effective training. 

What to do: Plot a timeframe as an investment to training and development so you can meet business objectives. You can decide to spread your training course to over a month and allocate specific hours dedicated to learning every day. This way, you get accustomed to the training and development while building a habit. 

6. Lack of management support.

How would you feel if you spent countless sleepless nights working on a project only for it to be dismissed by the person you’re presenting it to? Terrible, I’m sure. One major reason why training and development fails is the lack of management, encouragement, and support. All of these promotive aspects shape the work culture of an organization and must be integrated before and immediately after training to facilitate an employee’s learning process 

What to do: A simple check-in about the training programs, how they are enjoying it, suggestions to make training more fun, reviewing successes and milestones are great ways to incorporate encouragement into the workspace. Managers need to know that creating an empowering environment for employees also means showing them that they are concerned and intentional about their employee’s growth in the training process. 

7. Using a subject matter expert for the training.

No doubt, subject matter experts know most of the ins and outs of the training subject, but not all of them are great instructors. The fact that someone is an expert doesn’t mean that they have great brevity or pedagogical skills. It’s difficult to step back and remember what the learning process was like as a beginner. Instead of placing the burden of training on a subject matter expert, it’s often more effective to establish a collaboration between subject matter experts and expert trainers. 

What to do: First, you have to select a subject matter expert that is capable of being a great instructor. Then, get an effective trainer who is capable of breaking down the training information, recognizing the critical elements, and putting it back together in a way that’s digestible for people. This saves off valuable time and delivers more effective training. 

8. Failing to follow up post-training and provide feedback about results.

A lot of people go through training and development, but still end up not receiving feedback on how well they have improved. In cases like this, post-training check-in and follow up assessments are almost usually not practiced. Without feedback and follow-up, employees may not remember what they learned from a training and development program. To remember a learned habit, closing the loop with feedback is very vital. 

What to do: Every manager should follow up with direct reports and feedback within two weeks of training to discuss learnings from the training programs. 

9. Poor workplace environment that inhibits the transfer of what is being learned.

Oftentimes, we take on amazing training and development programs but certain barriers limit our application of what we learned. Sometimes, the work culture in the workplace may not support the training, or, there may be no available opportunities to use the acquired skills. Other times, there may not be a reward system that supports the skills or unavailable resources to use the skills. 

What to do: Identify the common barriers that can interfere with the transfer, and usage of these new skills. Now there are barriers at every level – at the solution design level, the development level, the training delivery level, and the implementation level. You must have keen eyes to identify and assess these barriers, make an effort to reduce them, and if possible, cut out the barriers before the training and development get implemented.

10. Using an outdated training program.

With new trends and changes in the workforce, a company that is still using a training program of the ’90s or the gen alpha, might be the reason why training and development are failing. The kind of people you’ll be employing now are the millennials and gen z. A good portion of them prefer working remotely or hybrid work, and don’t expect to use the training program for on-site work. 

What to do: Access your training program against the latest trends in the workforce and your company. Notice the kind of people you’re employing and how they love to work. Then adjust your training program to fit the needs of your employees.

11. There’s no actual and proper training. 

Most times, when an employee gets into an organization, you’ll hear their immediate boss saying “oh, you’ll get the hang of it”. Sometimes, learning on the job or following James around for a week doesn’t help. People have different learning styles—- some can get the hang of it by relying on the ropes their boss shows them, while others can’t.

What to do: It’s vital to know the learning style of your (new) employees. Knowing this will help you tailor your training and development programs. Nonetheless, every employee should undergo an initial orientation training program. So, make sure to have a developed and detailed training program for your staff even if some can learn on the job. 


With an effective training plan that meets the business need, and comprehensive involvement and commitment from people at multiple levels in the company, you’ll be able to meet training goals, organizational goals, and ultimately an effective level of business impact and return on investment. 

If you’re interested in learning more about what your company can achieve with the right approach, encouragement, and mindset, head on over to our client services page at our website. 

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