The ‘Not-So-Common’ Sense in Training & Development Workshops

1024 678 Ellen Ensher
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The definition of ‘common sense’, according to Merriam-Webster is:


“Sound and prudent judgment based on a simple perception of the situation or facts”


Common sense is entirely dependent on the perception people have, and as the definition hints to, it is supposed to be simple. Common understanding, socially accepted beliefs, and things that are so clear, do not require much effort or focus, that people can all agree on.


Common sense shapes how we choose to act, what we believe is appropriate, and often in the Training and Development field, common sense is inadvertently used often to pick what content to include in sessions. Common sense determines the ‘between the lines’ that trainers expect the participants to read, and the content to discard because it is ‘common sense’. Considering the value of time and the pressure to streamline as much as possible, not just for cutting costs ofprograms, but also for the increasingly challenging task of keeping the audience engaged, common sense is necessary. As a student, I am expected to present to my peers around eight times every semester. During my presentations, if I have a slide with information they consider to be common sense and therefore redundant (or boring), I can observe the instant disengagement, as if I had turned off the light in the room with the flick of a button. If engagement is difficult to achieve, re-engaging is near impossible.


Outside of content, it is also going to become significantly more difficult for human resources departments to structure their policies, and decide what kind of training is necessary, and the numerous legal implications that arise from these policies will not make it any easier. Most of the upcoming generation soon going into the work force has been receiving training around issues of inclusion, diversity, gender issues, and all around sensitivity from their day of birth, that effectively will render the time and money spent on developing and holding these training sessions inefficient. That is not to say that they do not require training, just that the training they must go through in order to bring value to their organization is completely different than what is being currently offered. For multinational corporations who have a standardized structure, whom already have to deal with countless variables because of cultural, societal, and demographical differences, this is probably not the best news.


Homogenization of cultures and people is an ongoing trend that is accredited to globalization. This will hypothetically (and hopefully) make it easier for companies expanding outside of their respective borders, to localize and adjust their HR approach, but this might be drowned out by all the other complications that are coming up. Common sense is becoming not so common, and HR is also becoming a victim of the ever-so-fast changing world, again reminding us how important it is to have the mindset ready to change and adapt, policies and laws that do not limit the ability to do so, and most importantly leaders that are able to see the big picture, and can guide organizations through this arduous process that will determine not only their success, but also their survival.