(Federal) Employee Training — The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly

Anyone looking to vent?

I want to hear complaints about employee training, specifically for federal employees. What bothers you most about training courses and the way in which they are conducted? What modalities are used in your organization? Are they effective — or obsolete in your opinion?

Maybe if we thrash out the negative…. we can move toward the positive!

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Jack Shaw

I’m always willing to vent. And, I wrote a piece a long time ago. See below. My problem has not been with specific training usually in the way it was administered. I think it is taken too lightly. The modalities matter–depends on the subject and motivation of the employees. Usually I found it meant we had to do it or it was a negative. If we did it, it filled a square and nothing more and did nothing to motivate me to use what I learned (if I really learned anything because I didn’t really care). Why should I care when no one else seemed to.


Michelle G. Rosenbloom

Sorry about stealing your title Jack — wasn’t on GovLoop back in april 2011 🙂

I just had a conversation with my sister in law who is a postpartum nurse in Silver Spring, MD. When I mentioned “employee training” the first word out of her mouth was “blah – we always dread those.”

What is it about employee training that turns everyone off? I think you touched on the subject when you discussed being “humane” and respecting the trainee’s wants and needs. Bottom line — trainers should not be out to make lives miserable. Their goal should be cultivating knowledge, facilitating improvement – and ultimately, acting as the conduit for personal and professional growth.

Without even considering mediums, platforms, and modalities — first and foremost — training should be viewed as helpful, not painful.

In the words of my friend Aretha, all the training world needs is a little R-E-S-P-E-C-T.

Scott Kearby

There are quite a few mandatory annual training topics that are required each & every year (violence in the workplace, harrassment, ethics, anti-terrorism/force protection, etc). The purpose is to make sure that each & every employee is familar with the topic. The method of satisfying the requirement usually requires employees to fill a given block of time watching a video or listening to a briefing which is basically the same from year to year. Instead of conveying the importance of the topic, this approach creates the opposite effect … it bores all except the newest employee and the objective is no longer to make sure everyone understands the subject, but the objective is to “fill the square” so everyone can get back to the real work.

I am all for allowing someone to demonstrate mastery of the topic by testing out in some manner & being credited with proficiency in the topic. Testing out could result in a multi-year certification that would make repeat testing less frequent as well.