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Voluntary versus Mandatory Training

July 16th, 2009 Martin Raske No comments

There are different ways of motivation why someone would learn something. The easiest way to learn is certainly if you have intrinsic motivation. If you are interested in a topic or if you realize that without an effort to learn some new skills you won't be able to do your job or whatever, then most certainly you will be very much engaged to find all kind of material and information that you need and you will start learning.

However, intrinsic motivation is not always a given. Some things you just have to learn. In most jobs there are things that you just need to know, whether you find it interesting or not. Depending on the industry you are in there might even be regulatory requirements that ask for a specific training. This kind of content is more often than not distributed to the audience as a mandatory course. Thanks to all the systems we have in place, tracking is made easy and reports can be generated at any given time. Of course you will learn many things from these mandatory trainings as well. You might even come across topics that you would never have found if they were not mandatory.

The question is: Can there be an answer, which learning has the better quality? Which learning is more sustainable?

Maybe from an economical perspective one could argue that intrinsic learning is less cost intensive: Once the motivation is given, you don't need to chase people to learn. Whereas in mandatory trainings you have to invest a lot of time and money to convince or even force people to take the course.

From a personal perspective I would always tend to avoid mandatory training wherever it is possible and rather convince people to learn whatever is needed because it helps them do their job better or even because it helps the company to be compliant with the given legal requirements. I don't know of any ROI claculations in this respect, but my assumption would be that investing in motivation is less expensive in the long run than investing in repression.