What if I Train Them and They Leave?


When discussing training for staff and employees, I have had more than one prospective client express concern about the effort and expense. One of their biggest fears is, “What if I SPEND all this time and money to train them and then they LEAVE?”

My response always seems to surprise them. “What if you DON’T TRAIN them and they STAY?”

Then I shut up and let them consider this. The facial expressions are often very interesting at this point.

Training Staff

What happens next? Typically, we begin to talk about why people leave or stay with a firm. While it is true that if the person is being successful they may leave, this is not a given.

Most employees just want to be appropriately compensated for their efforts and progress, to be treated fairly, and shown professional respect. They want to be in an environment that is successful and continuing to evolve, for themselves and the company.

The big problem here for management and employers is the waste of money and loss of customers from poorly trained staff that are left to “figure it all out” by themselves. Even if the staff is bright and eager, they “don’t know what they don’t know.” If only someone would coach them.

It may not be as obvious as writing a check for training but failure to properly train staff results in other big and ongoing expenses. And these are far more costly than training.

Many employees rarely ask for training. For some reason, I think they feel like they should “just magically know” how to do things. Divine inspiration I suppose. Or perhaps the assume that if the job they are doing meets the expectations of their boss, so why make the extra effort for more training.

I believe that some employees are afraid they will look incompetent if they ask for training. So instead, they muck through tasks through trial-and-error at the expense of the company, their coworkers and the customers. Some even adopt the now obvious company philosophy that efficiency and customer service are less important than simply showing up for the appointed period of work time. If management accepts this behavior, then it becomes acceptable, permitted and repeated by the staff.


"Newtonian Physics???"

I also see some in management take a different approach. They keep telling everyone to “do better.” But they don’t really train them HOW to do better. 

I think that is about the same as lecturing my rescue dog “Rosie” on the latest developments in Newtonian Physics. It may make you feel like you’ve given great and important information or clear directions but all it really did was confuse everyone (including the dog).

Winners want to work with winners. What culture is your work environment? Do the winners stay or leave? Do you help the winners be better winners? Are you working to help yourself win?

Training may be formal through classes and testing or it may be more informal through hands-on coaching, books, and user groups. Whatever form training takes, both the companies and the individuals that succeed over the long-term are typically the same ones that regularly invest the time to improve themselves.


About the Author

Glenn S. Phillips works with leaders who want to leverage technology and understand risks within. An author and blogger, Glenn is often quoted in national media, plays a really ugly tuba (it even has a bullet hole) and is a fan of dark chocolate and great puns.