Identifying the Barriers to Change

4 February 2015
Comments: 0
4 February 2015, Comments: 0

picket fence
For training to be truly effective it is important to understand what may prevent what is learnt in the training session being applied back in the work environment.  These barriers to the change (in behaviour) being implemented should be considered and discussed with the business leaders, line managers and participants so that they can work together to mitigate, avoid or address the problems.


Here are our 9 common barriers to change:

  1. A lack of clear communication of the benefit to all parties of the business training: The business, participant and participant’s line manager need a compelling and noticeable reason for change.  If this does not exist, or is not evident, the business will be unable to see a benefit in supporting the initiative; the participant will not see the relevance in taking action and the line manager will not play their role in embedding and assisting the transfer of learning.
  2. Insufficient challenge in the needs analysis phase: Training can be considered a ‘quick fix’ by some business sponsors.  Challenges around the needs of the business and specifically how training will affect them must be identified to prevent ending up with an ineffective design. These challenges need to encompass the roles of others in the business in supporting and encouraging change- it cannot be solely down to the training department.
  3. Being too vague about the change that is needed: We tend to settle for general outcomes, for example ‘they need to be better at presenting’, rather than identifying what would specifically make the difference. For instance, it may be that the change is not about presenting but is in fact about communicating a compelling differentiator and that confidence and rapport building training is actually what is required- not a presentation skills course! If we do not know the specifics, it is difficult to design business training that truly delivers results.
  4. A view that training, in isolation, is the solution: To be truly successful, training cannot be limited to a workshop. We need to take what happens before and after the training into consideration to support the transfer of learning.
  5. Lack of management support before and after training: Active management support is so much more than creating time in the participant’s diaries for training and supportive words. Managers have a significant impact on whether learning is transferred into the work environment, and a manager needs to commit to assisting in the implementation of the learning in the work place.
  6. The change being incompatible with the views, beliefs and attitudes or the participant: If the participant’s beliefs are at odds with the desired change, the beliefs and attitudes will always triumph. It is essential that we recognise this and address it rather than assuming the participant will take on and apply skills taught in a workshop.
  7. The Training Manager not treating this aspect as important enough: Time needs to be spent focusing on the development of sustainable change; however we often get distracted by the training content and methodology. Consequently, we lose sight of the significance of transferring learning to the work environment.
  8. Conflict of priorities for the participant: Does our training support the participant’s priorities? Or does it hinder and compete with them? If what we are asking of the participants conflicts then we need to address this with both them and their managers.
  9. Training may be the wrong intervention: Training is only one way of working with people and helping them develop. If objective questioning around the business needs is central to the needs analysis, the training professional can establish the correct type of development required.

Are there any other barriers that you have come across that you would add to our list?  If so, we would love to know what they are … let us know below.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>