Tip #827: Debunking L&D Myths

“Making assumptions simply means believing things are a certain way with little or no evidence that shows you are correct, and you can see at once how this can lead to terrible trouble.”  Lemony Snicket

Our assumptions about how people learn has a huge impact on the training decisions we make and the approach we take. If our assumptions are correct, that’s fine. But when our assumptions are incorrect, we need to rethink our training strategies and consider whether training is even the answer.

An article published by go1 in the online Chief Learning Officer magazine looks at four prevalent myths about learning and development. Two of the myths concern perceived generational differences, one concerns women advancement and the last concerns recruitment and retention.

The first myth is that millennials have different learning preferences than other generations. Research shows this is untrue.

Training Industry’s 2018 report “What Learners Want: Strategies for Training Delivery” gathered over 1000 responses from learners of all generations who were working full time and had participated in training within the past year. Their research showed that there were no generational differences in learner preferences. The generations all enjoy the various training modalities available.

The second myth is that older people have difficulty learning new tasks. Given the current critical need for upskilling and reskilling, this is a devastating myth. And it is untrue.

Many different studies revealed there were only small differences between generational groups. However, because of the stereotype, it was found that trainers teaching older persons how to use a computer had low expectations and provided worse training than when they were teaching a younger person. Older workers have institutional knowledge and potential that should be tapped.

The third myth is that women are advancing in the workplace because of leadership training. Sadly, this is untrue.

In a survey by McKinsey & Company, “Companies report that they are highly committed to gender diversity. But that commitment has not translated into meaningful progress. The proportion of women at every level in corporate America has hardly changed. Progress isn’t just slow. It’s stalled.” According to their study, women are disadvantaged in both hiring and promotions, which are the two largest drivers of workplace representation. Until companies close the early gaps in hiring and promotion, women will remain underrepresented.

The fourth and last myth is that learning and development has no impact on employee recruitment and retention. Again, this is untrue.

We know that career development opportunities are an attractive benefit for potential hires. In addition, according to LinkedIn Learning’s 2018 Workplace Learning Report, 94% of employees say they would stay at a company longer if it invested in their career development. But managers have a lot of impact on this: 56% of employees say they would spend more time learning if their manager directed them to complete a course to gain or improve their skills. The report concluded that talent developers must market training more aggressively and effectively as well as involve managers more in learning and development activities.

So, there you are. Four myths have been debunked. The different generations should not be treated differently when it comes to training. They share the same learning preferences and have the same potential to learn. Simply training women in leadership skills will not change their representation in the workforce. Companies must take action to recruit and promote more women. And learning and development affects recruitment and retention. They just need to up their game in terms of marketing programs to employees and co-opting the support of managers.

May your learning be sweet- and safe.



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