We’ve all been there. You sign up for a program about taking your career to the next level, only to find that it doesn’t really do much for you. The exercises are good, but a bit confusing. There’s no one to talk to. You’re not quite sure how to apply it. In the end, it feels like a waste of time and money, and you’re left still feeling stuck. Today we’re going to talk about why these kinds of programs don’t work, and what to look for instead.

Whether you’re trying to get a promotion, or looking for a new job, or you’ve landed that new role and now you want to be sure you’re fully equipped, career transitions can be a great time to sharpen your leadership and career skills. There are thousands of training programs and books aimed at helping you do that. Unfortunately, most of them do not bring about lasting transformation. Today we’re going to look at what’s missing, and what to look for, to make the most of your investment.

Whether you’re considering an online program, or a live training, or you’re going it alone by working your way through the shelves and shelves of self-help books on the topic, the choices can be overwhelming. Which ones will be useful for you? The sad reality is that most of the management training programs out there aren’t really set up to create the kind of lasting transformation that will propel your career forward. There are three main reasons for this:

  • They don’t include any kind of coaching to help you apply what you’re learning and keep you on track
  • They are necessarily generic
  • They simply do not get to the heart of the problem of what’s really holding you back in your career

There’s No Support for Application

There are many leadership training programs out there that provide amazing information. I’m actually certified to lead a few. But what I’ve found over the years is that information simply isn’t enough. You go to a training, get some good insights, and then within a few months are back to doing things the way you always have. I think this is because these programs don’t include sufficient coaching support to help you apply the learning. There’s no one there to help you connect the lessons to your day-to-day situation on a regular basis. You get some great ideas, but when you bring those to your work as a leader, things get wonky. Real life is more complicated than it seemed in the classroom. Without a coach at your side, you’re left to navigate that on your own. There’s no one to answer your questions or guide you through it. In the face of that challenge, most people tend to give up and going back to doing things the way they always have.

Of course, that presumes that you remember to implement what you’ve learned in the first place. For many people, insights from classroom learning don’t translate into real life because once they get pulled back into their day-to-day responsibilities, the learning goes out the window. Without a coach, there’s no one to make sure you’re applying the learning, or getting the value from the program.

The truth is that most program developers and trainers believe their responsibility ends once they’ve shared the program with you. At that point, they’ve delivered the value they’re going to deliver. Whether you apply it, and it makes a difference in your career or not, isn’t really their problem. They’re not there to keep you on track. There’s no one asking about your progress, or helping you stay focused, or celebrating your wins with you.

The result of going it alone, for most people, is that they’ll stumble around trying to apply the learning for a little while, and then give up somewhere along the way. In the end, the whole thing turns out to be a waste of time and money.

They’re Necessarily Generic

The other problem with leadership and career training programs is that they tend to be relatively generic. They’re “one size fits all” – because they have to be. Authors of these programs want to deliver broad value – so they have to create a model that is relatively simple and applies to just about everyone. So they’ll boil down their insights to a simple three-to-seven step plan to get their ideas across. Then they’ll populate the modules of that plan in a way that appeals to the lowest common denominator, so that it will apply universally. There’s nothing inherently wrong with this – it’s important to structure ideas and simplify concepts.

But real life doesn’t work that way. Real life is messy. There are complexities and nuances. There are different personalities to consider, different scenarios that play out. So, you go through a program and get some great ideas, but when you try to apply them to your situation, they don’t quite work or don’t quite fit, or you don’t yet have quite everything you need. And there you are, with a binder on the shelf that doesn’t really solve your problem, still as stuck as the day you started.

They Don’t Get to the Heart of the Problem

Finally, the number one reason that most management training or career transition programs don’t work is that they don’t get to the heart of the problem. They don’t get to what’s really going on that has you feeling stuck.

Any change we want to make in our lives, whether that’s in our health or fitness or careers, has two major components: the strategy and the mindset. This is true both for individuals and organizations. As Peter Drucker once said, “Culture eats strategy for lunch.” What that means is that at an organizational level, the values and beliefs, the ways people interact with one another, the overall culture of a company will overwhelm any strategy that the leaders try to put in place, if it’s not aligned to that culture. The same thing happens at an individual level. The beliefs, the stories we have about ourselves and others, the definitions we have of who we are as a person, what we value, what’s important to us – all of this will impact how successfully we implement any strategy we’re trying to put into place in our lives.

So the real challenge, I think, with management training programs or career training programs or even self-help books is that none of them truly gets to the heart of that for you. What are your beliefs? What are your values? What stories are moving your forward, and which ones are getting in the way?

To reach true transformation in your career, you need a way to identify and move through the patterns of thought and behavior that have been holding you back. You need to uncover the stories and history and bad feelings that play over and over in your head. Without this, you run the risk of falling back into familiar ways of doing things and repeating bad experiences over and over in your career.

To reach true transformation, you need a program that blends sophisticated leadership and career strategies with support to go beneath that, through thoughtful coaching and support, that gets to the heart of what’s getting in the way for you.

True transformation is what makes it possible for you to move into a new reality, where you feel excited to go to work, where you’re making a contribution that matters and is valued, whether that’s at the company you’re currently at or somewhere else.

Whatever has you looking for leadership or career development – whether you’re hoping to move up in your current company, or your between jobs looking for what’s next – look for a program that blends strategy and mindset. Look for training that offers a step-by-step research-based approach blended with coaching to help you apply it to your situation, with all of its nuances and the complexities. Most importantly, be sure it includes coaching with someone you can trust, to help you get to all of the underlying stuff that will otherwise get in the way of true transformation.

If you’re ready for a transformation that will take your career to the next level, book a call with me and let’s talk. We’ll get on the phone for about 45 minutes. We’ll look at your current situation, to understand what’s happening in your career right now. Where are you? Where are you stuck? What’s getting in the way? And where do you want to go? If I can help you get from here to there, we’ll talk about what that would look like. And if not, that’s okay too. The main goal is for you to walk away from that call with clarity about your next steps. I look forward to talking to you.

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