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Is this a training problem?

As L&D professionals, sometimes we see everything through the lens of a training problem. What happens when it's not a training problem at all?

Last week I was in Target in downtown Seattle and needed to take the elevator down to the parking garage. When I went to press the elevator call button, this is what I found:

Target Garbage

The call button is just above the heaping pile of trash. As I looked at this, I wondered if this was a problem that could be solved by training, or if it was something else.  What do you think?

Formal Training Solutions

Instructor-led Training (ILT):

If this was indeed a training problem, I could see this being covered during new employee orientation under a larger topic along the lines of maintaining store cleanliness. In addition to making sure products on the shelves were straight and shopping carts weren’t left abandoned in store aisles, I could see an activity in which participants would be asked to walk around an actual store, identify “cleanliness violations” and suggest ways to address them.


In order to scale and make the delivery of this message more consistent across tens of thousands of employees in hundreds of stores, elearning could be a more appropriate solution. I could see something similar to the instructor-led approach in which learners are exposed to images of a store and must identify what seems out of place (like a heaping pile of trash underneath the elevator call button for example) and make recommendations on how to address it.

Brief Video:

Short videos that are accessible through mobile devices or at computer stations in the break room and which offer continuing education could also be a solution. Demonstrations of what needs to be done and how to do it could help employees envision what they should be doing if they see something like this.

Informal Training Solutions

The issue, however, is that even if formal training had been offered, images like this may still pop up for various reasons. Perhaps more informal solutions would be more appropriate to address this problem. Following are a few examples:

Job Aid:

Perhaps there should be signage around the break room – posters or fliers – that have images of things out of place with a big caption underneath that says: “Store Cleanliness is Everyone’s Job. See Something, Do Something!”

Manager Feedback:

This could come in several forms – either 1:1 or with a group during a team meeting. Either way, if there’s an expectation that the store be kept neat and tidy, and if the store isn’t being kept neat and tidy in reality, then a supervisor should be taking note and reinforcing these expectations during meetings.

Leadership-modeled Behavior:

Leaders should never be above pitching in to fulfill common expectations. If everyone on the floor is busy, it could send a powerful message for a leader to bag up a pile of trash and take it out.

Other Solutions


As L&D professionals, sometimes we see everything through the lens of a training problem. What happens when it’s not a training problem at all? Would a larger trash can be the best solution?

Company Policies:

I looked at the trash can and felt it was kind of gross, and honestly I almost didn’t see the elevator call button because it was barely above the top of the trash pile. However, it could simply be an assumption on my part that there is a policy – formal or informal – about this sort of thing.

What do you think? Is something like this scene a training problem? Or is it something else? Let’s hear your thoughts in the comment section.

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