Dear Trainers: Engagement shouldn’t be the goal

Everywhere you go Trainers and the people that employ them talk about engagement.  But engagement shouldn’t be the goal.  Here’s why…

Engagement. It’s a word that you’ll hear Trainers, would be Trainers and Clients looking for Trainers all use.

Engage our people.

But when we’re talking about training, I think sometimes the bus stops too soon.

Engagement isn’t the goal.  It’s not the final destination.

Sure, it’s an integral part of the journey. It’s important.

But it’s not the goal.


Changing business results is the goal of (most) training

If it’s Customer Service training, then decide what your goal is.  Should repeat calls go down? Do we need Customer satisfaction go up?  What about Employee Attrition?

If it’s Contact Center management training, should Service Level improve? Should leadership reallocate where they spend time? Should metrics be redesigned?

If it’s Customer Experience Management training, should we help people pass a certification exam?  Should new listening posts be identified?  Should new rituals be designed?

One of my best work moments was when I was watching a global Customer Service Director share with their Team how their Organization’s business results had improved over the last year.

How X measurement had gone up, how Y measurement had gone down, and how the work of the people in that room had contributed to that success.

His opening was a superb lead in to the workshop that I was about to conduct. Because he specifically addressed business results.

He brought up engagement as well in his workshop introduction.  He told the group, “And believe me you’ll have fun with Dan.  I know because I was in this course before.”

And that was fine too.  It was a lovely compliment.

Engagement matters.  It’s just not the end goal.


Don’t think about engagement as the final destination. Engagement is expected.

As a Trainer, when you struggle to bring a group of people to life, your opportunity to deliver business results will be negatively impacted.

No matter how valid or good your content is.

On the other hand, if you think that getting a room of people hyped up and excited without any meaningful change in behavior and outcomes is ok, well that’s a different problem.

We’ve all seen those trainings where lots of people jump up and down. A few may even cry.

But the following week they’re all back at work doing everything exactly the same way they did before.

Nothing’s changed.

I’ve always called that hoo-ha training.

And the term is not complimentary.

And finally, there are some training programs – such as CPR or life saving – that may not have a specific business result in mind – but which are considered important too.  It’s good to understand when that’s the case.


Engagement matters. But it’s expected.

If you’re a pianist, you can play with feeling.  A lawyer, you can articulate the merits of your case.

And a Trainer can engage groups of people.  People expect that.

Remember that your end goal is one of impact.  To change those business results.

Because that’s what really matters.


Thank you for reading!

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Daniel Ord

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Daniel Ord teaching in Dubai

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