Teaching vs. Training

I think too many companies focus on training people. When you train people you focus on the “how” of something. Here’s how to use the software. Here’s how to follow the procedures. Here’s how to use this system.

It’s not that people don’t need some of that. It’s just that most of those things change. Software gets upgraded. New procedures are introduced. Then what? More training on how to do it the new way.

I think we need to focus on teaching people not just training them. When you teach people, you guide them not just on the “how” of what they’re doing but on the “why.” You encourage them to ask, challenge, learn and grow. You encourage them to understand – not just follow directions.

So why don’t more companies teach rather than train?

Because it’s harder. You have to invest in people, not just procedures. You have to care about their growth, not just their ability to function.

I’ve worked with people who have been trained. They’re rigid and rote. They don’t adapt well to change. They need consistency and structure because they were trained to operate it those conditions. Change the conditions or environment and they appear nothing short of panicked.

Have you ever heard a child ask a parent “Why” and the parent responds with “Because I said so”? That’s what training is. Don’t ask questions. Don’t do it differently. Do it this way because I said so. Kids sometimes need that. Adults rarely do.

Stop telling people how and start discussing the why.

You train animals. You teach people.

Question: Do you find yourself training or teaching others?

About the Author

  • Travis,

    I really enjoyed this post. I think it speaks more to the mentality of larger businesses – focusing primarily (if not exclusively) on output over building people. It's similar to what Stephen R. Covey talks about in 7 Habits: Efficiency vs. Effectiveness. Efficiency is all about mastering the "how" where effectiveness examines the "why." Covey argues (and I agree) that efficiency should be a goal when dealing with processes and tasks, but effectiveness should be the goal when dealing with people.

    • Thanks, Brian. Great comments and thoughts. You don't want to disregard the efficiency of processes and tasks. I like how you put it: "effectiveness should be the goal when dealing with people." I also think part of the problems stems from the fact that "trained" people are easier to control than "taught" people. Trained people do what you say. Taught people do what's most effective. They require two different styles of management and operations.

      Cheers!
      Travis

  • Travis,

    I really enjoyed this post. I think it speaks more to the mentality of larger businesses – focusing primarily (if not exclusively) on output over building people. It's similar to what Stephen R. Covey talks about in 7 Habits: Efficiency vs. Effectiveness. Efficiency is all about mastering the "how" where effectiveness examines the "why." Covey argues (and I agree) that efficiency should be a goal when dealing with processes and tasks, but effectiveness should be the goal when dealing with people.

    • Thanks, Brian. Great comments and thoughts. You don't want to disregard the efficiency of processes and tasks. I like how you put it: "effectiveness should be the goal when dealing with people." I also think part of the problems stems from the fact that "trained" people are easier to control than "taught" people. Trained people do what you say. Taught people do what's most effective. They require two different styles of management and operations.

      Cheers!
      Travis

  • guest

    thanks for this information!

  • Mike

    My sister-in law outright refers to her children as dogs! Can you believe that? Of course she is a control freak and their home school teacher, principal and is constantly on their case. Sometimes they don’t even respond unless they look at her first. I know it’s brainwashing but isn’t it also a form of child abuse? It makes me sick to my stomach since I am a parent also.