Why Do Trainings at All?


Why Do Trainings at All?

When I discuss the necessity of trainings with decision makers, there are usually two arguments thrown my way:

  1. Costs
  2. Quality

And I want to and need to address both of them.


Trainings are expensive. So, why should we do them in the first place?

I get that. Of course some arguments are needed, because no one likes to invest into something they don’t think has value.

There is this powerful quote that I fell in love with 10 years ago:

Question: What if we skill up our employees and they leave the company?

Answer: What if we don’t?

In the old times, this really was a dilemma. Should I invest into my employees or not? If I don’t, I save money, but I risk getting overtaken by my competition or by the market itself. If I do, I risk loosing that investment before it returns something if my employees leave. Nowadays we know that if people stay or leave is up to a lot of factors. We also learned that we can do a lot to keep skilled people as long as possible. Ask every experienced HR person in the world if you don’t believe me. And with that, the dilemma above gets a lot simpler.


Yes, trainings, school and other mechanisms of teaching like coaching can be or are costly. And if it’s well done, for good reason: trainers don’t deliver a product, they transfer a skill. They enable you to do the work yourself, if you want or need to. Trainers give you a bit of independence. Trainers enhance your professional self.

Maybe you are a team lead, maybe you are responsible for professional development, maybe you do work in HR — if you are considering a training for others, the same applies. Trainings make your co-workers and, with that, your company more valuable and more independent. On the other hand, the trainer surrenders some of their own relevance: if everyone had their knowledge, they wouldn’t be necessary anymore.


Time is also a cost. A person sitting in a training doesn’t do their usual work. During the training their work output is comparable with them being on vacation somewhere. I even heard someone once criticizing trainings as, “paid holidays for my esteemed colleagues.” I hope this was just jealousy speaking.

Yes, people who are learning in a structured way (not by solving problems — see the previous blog) are not producing outcomes during that time. That’s part of the investment. We invest money and time into our co-workers, to make them more valuable than they are right now.

Some companies try to compensate that by letting those poor co-workers work a double shift in the week after or forcing them to read their emails during a training or by letting deadlines stand as if the training wasn’t happening at all.

If you read those lines and discover yourself there, as someone who imposes those behaviours on others, you are either part of or creating a toxic work environment. Don’t do that. First, it doesn’t work. People who learn and work at the same time don’t do either of those things thoroughly. And second: It kills the employee’s work motivation, which therefore kills their productivity and effectiveness.

Return on Investment

The good news: Trainings work. There is a positive ROI (if you don’t know that acronym, look at the title of this paragraph). If that sounds too fluffy for you, no problem: Data trainings or data tool trainings save time and with that also money in the long term. Still too fluffy?

Let’s get practical:

  • The time to understand data is reduced.
  • Analysis, or rather answering business questions using data, gets faster and more accurate.
  • Due to data, precision becomes more valuable, and you rely less on gut-feeling decisions.
  • Hiring skilled people from outside and expensive outsourcing both become less necessary.
  • Workflows of non-data teams become more streamlined when their detail questions can be answered quickly or even by themselves.

Quality (Or, I Had a Bad Experience Myself)

Many budget owners or decision makers had horrible training experiences in their past and are not convinced that the promised value will actually be visible in the end. It’s understandable that they are quite hesitant to approve something they don’t trust.

And that I get, even more than the money argument. If I think only of the horrible trainings around data protection that I sat in a few years back, or a Tableau training I had the displeasure to attend in 2017, I will definitely discard trainings from my life. Trainings that remind me of the boring subjects at school, are not helping me to trust a training that I don’t even know a lot about.

So, yes. There are bad trainings and bad trainers out there. That makes me quite sad, because every bad training is not just a lost opportunity, it’s losing future opportunities as well.

Sometimes the trainer lacks the necessary knowledge, sometimes it’s a communication issue, sometimes the structure of the training just doesn’t work, sometimes the participants don’t need a training but are still sitting in there, and so on and so on.

Now comes the part where I tell you how great our trainers are, and that we are aware of all those issues and work very hard on not running into them. I could tell you that we have decades of experience, that we are well-known for the quality our trainers, that we have the highest score for training delivery in the world, that we invest a lot of time into our trainer upskilling, that we encourage all our trainers to have as much fun as possible when they teach, that a company like Tableau at one point said: “Your train-the-trainer program is far better than ours, why don’t you just train our trainers?” and that we are super proud of what we can offer.

But then, I guess, you’d expect any company to say things like these. If I read or heard someone talk like that, I’d probably think that they are a bit full of themselves.

So let me tell you, then, how we do it. How do we approach trainings?

More About the Author

Sebastian Deptalla

Analytics Lead
How We Do Our Trainings Step 1: Scoping You talk with us about what you actually need. This is what we call scoping. We check what you are after, ask a lot of ...
Why Do Trainings at All? When I discuss the necessity of trainings with decision makers, there are usually two arguments thrown my way: Costs Quality And I want ...

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