During my time in public service, I’ve attended lots of different training programmes. There were a lot of training on writing minutes, professional reports and trip reports, as well as some on professional etiquette in a wide range of situations including during presentations, business meetings, business meals, cross-cultural interactions and so on. I won’t say all of them stuck with me and in fact, the elements that stuck were the ones I found useful on the spot and decided to make it a point to adopt. If they didn’t stand out when I first received them, the chance of them being useful to me was really low.
So the notes I took during those courses were at best museum artifacts of professional training I had received. The greater learning was done actually observing how my seniors, my managers and bosses behaved in those various settings, what they deemed important and asked questions about in reports and minutes. Those standards and disciplines were cultivated in that manner rather than through a couple of hours of training. In fact even days of training won’t cut it.
So is training a good way to enforce standards and uplift them across the people in an organisation? I think it can be if it aligns well with what is being practised and expected in an organisation to such a level that the senior management is practising them already. As David Maister rightly pointed out, training doesn’t work if it’s designed to change the juniors or frontline staff while the senior management or middle management is allowed to be set in their old ways.