Is training always the answer?

 In Comment

Disclaimer: LawSkills provides training for the legal industry and does not provide legal advice to members of the public. For help or guidance please seek the services of a qualified practitioner.


Failure to perform could look like a skills gap needs plugging with training an individual but a performance deficiency does not always mean a training need exists. It could be caused by many other factors such as:

  • Poor quality materials – such as an inadequate library or no appropriate software
  • Unsuitable working conditions – such as insufficient space; too noisy; too cold; too hot etc.
  • Inefficient equipment – such as no up to date IT
  • Lack of motivation – such as poor salary; inadequate leadership
  • Badly designed working methods – such as inefficient systems which are not up to date
  • Insufficient staff – such as too much work for the wrong type of staff
  • Insufficient resources – such as lack of investment

Training may be one of the solutions to these problems, but it is unlikely to be the only solution. A Training Needs Analysis should identify not just skills gaps but also the other factors affecting performance. For example:

  • Is performance of that skill really essential?
  • Is the solicitor rewarded for using that skill?
  • Do the partners discourage that behaviour?
  • What other obstacles to performance exist?

Once you have identified that training could provide some or all of the solution to a problem you need to:

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  1. Agree training objectives that reflect business priorities – these should be agreed with line managers and not with the person responsible for organising the training
  2. Decide which skills or competences the training is intended to improve. Look at your business plan and decide what your people will need to be able to do to fulfil your plan. Do they have competences to deliver? If not, then identify competences required.
  3. You need to have a clear link between your proposed training activity and your training objectives, the business problem and business objectives and the overall business strategy. Making this link will help focus on the associated skills people needs to deliver the longer term business objectives.

You may find it helpful to think about 3 different types of training/development/learning:

  • ‘should’ – that which must be done – a basic knowledge or skill which is central to your business such as typing skills for a keyboard user.
  • ‘ought’ – there is a recognition that these skills are likely to benefit the organisation, such as management skills for partners and department heads.
  • ‘want’ – activities where the benefits are less obvious or apparent in the longer term

What types of training do you provide in your firm? What are you trying to achieve with each type? Do you need to provide more than the basics?

Food for thought indeed and if you would like any help with your training needs, please give me a call.


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