Understanding Training Success: The Android Syndrome

Sections of this topic
    Can you train someone to be successful?

    I saw an interesting article, the Best Kept Secrets of Successful Business People, but found many of its ideas fit anyone who seeks training success. And there is a purely selfish reason they are kept secret.

    However, the question for trainers is: Can you train someone to be successful? I have to answer: Not really. I know it’s silly. After all, there are a lot of people, experts in their fields, successful business people, successful speakers, and trainers selling their secrets of success. How can they be secrets if they are selling them all the time? They are selling them because there are so many of them and calling them secret is the only way to make them proprietary.

    I think, and this may be naive of me, the only way to sell success is to sell a forum of successful ideas, a philosophy of success. Surely, someone has put that out there. The only problem I see (as an English and speech professor) is one of attribution–that is giving credit where it is due. Now, we, trainers, do train employees to be successful, to make the company successful if we can, and to have employees equipped with the traits the company believes will make ideal employees. I have performed leadership and management training as I’m sure you all have, too. Mostly we concentrate on leadership theory and we break it down into useful tools we can use in the company. The “how” isn’t so much as important as the result and ultimately that is what we do.

    Here’s an idea. Think back to when you had a philosophy class, if you did one, or a psychology class, or even a literature class–actually any class where you might have differing or diverging views. Just as I have my students take multiple sources–a little bit of this, a little bit of that–all the while immersing themselves in the knowledge contained within the whole, and coming up with an original idea. Isn’t that what students do all along? So many years in school and then we find they are still not ready for the world of work? Part of that comes from basic assimilation of the mass of ideas received plus the college experiences and being flung into the adult world. Two years, the experts say is about right–especially for the private less mainstream institutions–and that includes our military academies.

    Some of these secrets of success may propel them from school directly to the business world, but it’s still two years after graduation before any schooling really makes sense to students in the real world. So, employers feel cheated. I guess the young are really an android (a robot not the phone and tablet system) devoid of human thought and creative abilities of their own until we push them in the right direction.

    We like the ideas of mentors in business. We like interns. In Medicine, we like interns and rotation of positions, but not all of us are set up that way. That seems to be the way we are dealing with the Android syndrome. We force applications down many paths so employees see as much of the big picture as possible. And our most successful candidates in those programs go on to be successful. Yes? So we must be on the right track.

    How about we send them looking for as many secrets of success as they can find…

    So, now we want to tell business success stories. We can’t really train them. We can only tell them and hope they take it. Maybe a motivator can do a better job of inspiring, but what are the odds of success? Do we send them to one of these secret success builders? Why? They only get one side there.

    How about we send them looking for as many secrets of success as they can find through research in libraries, and on the net, and put them in a room and let them discuss the practicalities of these notions? Add in a few moderators to keep it civil and focused, maybe focused on the company or government entity? Identify each individual proclivity and you have found the place where this person can succeed beyond your wildest dreams.

    This may all be a dream. Sometimes I just do this. I let an idea percolate for a while–sometimes a long while until I think I can put it into words. Create a plan. Well, that’s a job and I’d need to get paid for that. But I hope I have piqued your attention and given you something to think about. As I continue to teach University students and work with creative people in both theatre and writing, I feel more alive than when I was doing the same thing in training every day. We didn’t have the luxury of time in trying something new. I hope that if I start with an idea, a trainer like one of us somewhere, can finish it with a program or product.

    For more resources about training, see the Training library.

    That’s all for me now. A reminder: I do have a website where you can find other items I have written including coupons for my best-selling, The Cave Man Guide To Training and Development, and my novel about the near future, Harry’s Reality. Happy Training.