How important is it that training content be fully customized for your organization?

SmartPulse -- our weekly nonscientific reader poll in SmartBrief on Leadership -- tracks feedback from more than 220,000 business leaders. We run the poll question each week in our newsletter.

How important is it that training content be fully customized for your organization?

  • Not at all. It’s about the methods, not the customization: 56.1%
  • Not at all. It’s about the methods, not the customization: 25.3%
  • Very. We demand the majority of training be customized: 9.9%
  • It’s critical. We won’t conduct training unless it’s customized: 8.7%

Beware of Customization. The vast majority of you are looking for customization of your training. While this is absolutely true of technical training related to your business processes or industry-specific skills, beware of customizing all your training. As someone who’s offered training services on soft skills for well over a decade, I’ve seen the downside of customization. When you’re training people on core skills like leadership, communication, problem solving, decision making etc., if you customize the session with custom case studies and examples, two unhealthy dynamics occur. First, participants tell you everything that’s inaccurate in the example. Second, they focus on solving the example versus learning the method at hand. Those dynamics can ruin an otherwise productive training session. Avoid the temptation to customize everything. It’s not always a good idea, and in many cases it can defeat the purpose of conducting the training in the first place.

Mike Figliuolo is managing director of thoughtLEADERS. Before launching his own company, he worked at McKinsey & Co., Capital One and Scotts Miracle-Gro. He is a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. He's the author of three leadership books: "One Piece of Paper," "Lead Inside the Box" and "The Elegant Pitch."