Hearts and Minds vs. Compliance with Company Policy

Hearts and Minds vs. Policy Compliance

Not long ago a friend complained to me about a training (delivered as elearning) that he had to do at work.  The problem, he said, was that the training was telling him to believe something that he disagreed with.  He passed the quizzes easily, of course, but did the training change his mind, or his behavior?  Did the training serve the purpose it was intended to?

Obviously I can’t answer all of those questions, since all I know about this training is what I heard in a venting session.  But I suspect, as you probably do, that this training was not entirely successful.

I believe that the problem was that the training was trying to change hearts and minds… but that is darned difficult, maybe impossible, to do with a 30 minute elearning required by an employer.  I think you could make a strong argument that even if it was possible, it is not particularly ethical for employers to attempt to change employees’ core beliefs.  Instead, the training ought to have laid out company policy and set clear expectations for employee behavior while on the job.

At this point, you’re probably wondering what this training was about!  I’m not going to get specific, but I will say that it’s a topic that reasonable people disagree about and major religions have conflicting teachings on.  Also, the law does not take a stand on the content of this training.  

In fact, although the training in question wasn’t on an explicitly religious topic, I think it would be fair to make a comparison to training at a restaurant that followed kosher dietary laws.  It would be completely appropriate for the restaurant to offer cooks instruction about kosher dietary laws and to set clear expectations that those laws be followed to the letter while at work.  However, it would be entirely inappropriate to also try to convince employees to avoid pork and shellfish while off the clock.

As an instructional designer, I feel a responsibility to make sure that I provide learning solutions that are effective, efficient, and sane.  Occasionally, that means taking into account how much an employer can ask of an employee, and providing guidance to make sure training is reasonable.