On February 2, 2013 I frantically tweeted, “Tony Robbins got it wrong this week about ‘understanding your employees’ work strategies.” Instead, I believe you should run your company’s training like a business. Although I appreciate Tony’s thoughts regarding understanding people’s work strategies, it‘s wasted effort … unless you measure business success in “feeling good.” Let’s get serious Tony, we measure business success by a different scoreboard.

Although I see an increase in awareness of how strategy and training can connect in success, author David Vance puts it succinctly, when he states:

“Corporate learning is a $200 billion per year business, and it should be run like one. Unfortunately this is often not the case, which means there is significant opportunity for improvement."


Whether your business is growing or not, you’re headed for disaster if you don’t have a good rhythm of training and education. Consider this, if you aren’t growing revenue, then it may be the result of stagnant talent. Save your money and effort on this one; discovering or understanding a stagnant employee’s work strategy is a waste of your time (one clear reason I disagree with Tony Robbins.) And, if you are growing revenue, your original team cannot sustain growth without each member growing in skill and knowledge. You don’t need a full time training staff or a huge contract with an outside training company – this internal training business can be developed and delivered internally in three clear, repeatable steps:

1. Establish a clear education mission that can be communicated simply.

In our own company, we have an internal training rhythm that occurs once per week through a process we call CABQ. The objective is to create a learning forum for our team to share, document, grow and accelerate our knowledge – and it is handled completely in-house and delivered by ALL team members. Reduced cost, maximum impact, microwaved learning. We’ve succeeded by doing this in a way that brings our team together to Communicate content, Ask questions, Bounce ideas off each other, and Question assumptions, and we execute it through attendance in a virtual meeting with all team members worldwide once a week.

Make clear what your training mission is by defining its purpose (including what the training mission is not). Should more than one group in your company take responsibility for some training initiatives? How do they overlap? What is your “we will be successful if…?”

2. Cement the business case for learning.

What makes your learning initiatives worthwhile, strictly from a business perspective? What is the business cost (for design, delivery and reinforcement) as well as the opportunity cost (the value of the participant's time, and expected impact)? How will you measure the ROTI (return on training investment)? In working with noted speakers around the word, I often hear Zig Ziglar quoted regarding training team members, “what if I train people and then they leave my organization?” To this Zig responded, “what if you don’t train them and they stay?”

In our company gaining knowledge on a regular basis is a one of our core values. We call it “Keep Smart,” and if you come to work with our team, you’ll be helped (and expected) to be smarter in week two than you were when you first came onboard. Don’t make the mistake that I see some leaders make in hiring – and then abandoning – new talent. A home requires repairs, maintenance and upkeep to maintain (or possibly increase) in value. Ask yourself, are you investing more in the upkeep of your building or office than your upkeep of your livelihood and team?

3. Carry out all training activities with specific, measurable goals.

What is the expected outcome of each effort? For example, "increase customer service skills” doesn't take us to the necessary level of clarity. Try something more like,"Increase customer satisfaction by 30% over six months.” For Rhythm users this will sound familiar as we coach our clients to create clear, measurable success criteria.

In our CABQ meetings, our objective includes encouraging everyone’s participation, building a knowledge database over time, doubling employee confidence in service, speeding up the on-boarding process for new employees, and encouraging debate and push back from all in an effort to continually challenge the status quo.

So, although Tony Robbins got it wrong, this is your chance to get it right! Run your corporate knowledge training like a business. Please share below your successful strategies for growing the knowledge of your team and enhancing your own leadership.


Executive Summary from Patrick Thean's book Rhythm


Barry Pruitt


Photo Credit: iStock by Getty Images