Adapted from Managing Human Resources, by Randall Schuler. 1994, West Publishing.
Sue Campbell, the training rep for the regional office of a large service organization, is excited about trying a new training program. The HR department at the headquarters office informed her six months ago that it had purchased a speed-reading training program from a reputable firm and that statistics showed the program had indeed been proven very effective in other companies.
Sue knew that most individuals in the regional office were faced, on a daily basis, with a sizable amount of incoming correspondence, including internal memoranda, announcements of new and revised policies and procedures, reports of federal legislation, and letters from customers. So, a course in speed reading should certainly help most employees.
The headquarters office had flown regional raining reps in for a special session on how to conduct the training, and Sue therefore began the program in her regional office with great confidence. She led five groups (30 employees each) through the program, which consisted of nine two-hour sessions. Sessions were conducted in the on-site training facilities. Altogether, 1,200 employees in the organization participated in the training, and an approximate cost to the company of $110 per participant (including training materials and time away from work). The program was well-received by participants, and speed tests administered before and after training showed that, on average, reading speed increased 250 percent with no loss in comprehension.
A couple of months after the last session, Sue informally asked a couple of employees who went through the training whether speed reading was easing their workload. They said they were not using it at work but did use it in their off-the-job reading. Sue checked with several other participants and heard the same story. Although they were using speed-reading techniques at home and for school courses, they were not using it on the job. When Sue asked them about all the reading material that crossed their desks daily, the typical response was, I never read those memos and policy announcements anyway! Sue is concerned about the information but didnt know what to do with it.
Did Sue waste valuable training funds?
Should Sue now start a program to get the employees to read the memos and policy announcements?
How could Sue have avoided this situation she now faces?
Should organizations provide training programs to improve skills that will not be used on the job?