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Best Training Practices
Will Kenny
3927 York Ave N
Robbinsdale, MN 55422

Keep it up . . . Boo!

a little ghostwriting help can add a lot of impact to best practices

You've introduced some valuable best practices in your organization. You've started the conversation about what makes a difference to your success. How much more impact could you have if you could keep it up, if you could continue that conversation so that the ideas and methods you've introduced stay in front of your employees over the long term? Why don't organizations do a better job of continuing those conversations?

Probably because they're hard!

Sprints vs. Marathons

Look at the training and communication tools used in most organizations to spread best practices and you'll see a series of events, a stream of projects. Seminars are delivered, online courses created, policies documented, meetings and conferences convened. Whoever leads the training effort for a particular department or function can point to a calendar and show you the projects in the pipeline, the events on the schedule.

But that person often starts to hem and haw when you ask about ongoing training, about continuing communication of best practices to the workforce. Bring up approaches like newsletters, regular staff meeting presentations, even internal blogs, and you'll get the same shudder that students give when the term paper assignments are announced.

You Already Know Better . . .

Contrast this with another type of training, athletic or fitness training. You may have a personal trainer, or belong to a fitness club or the Y. Even if you don't, I think you can answer the following questions easily:

  • Does the personal trainer or athletic coach recommend breaking training into a series of discrete events, scheduled a few times a year?
  • Does he or she provide a training plan based on "initiatives", perhaps based around major milestones like New Year's resolutions, or overeating at Thanksgiving?
  • Or does the personal trainer harp on the need to build a routine, to address your fitness needs and improve your health a little bit every day?

The answer for fitness training is obvious, and it's fairly obvious for improving business practices as well. So, why do organizations spend so little time and resources on ongoing training and communication, compared to the unique events?

The Challenge of the Long Haul

Longterm communication is just harder to do well. A proverb found in several languages tells us that, "It is easier to build two chimneys than to keep a fire going in one of them." Pulling together all the information, designing the flow and developing the content, is much easier for an event that is limited in scope, compared to weekly, monthly, or even quarterly communications of sufficient depth and quality to have a real impact.

It's understandable, after all, that you'd rather tackle pulling together a body of information that is limited in some way, than try to bring fresh and helpful perspectives on a topic to your employees time and time again, with no end in sight. We think of that as something that, say, the marketing folks have to do with customers and prospects, but internally, we shy away from that kind of sustained creative contact. And this in spite of the fact that whether you are spreading best practices internally, or influencing (external) customer behavior, persuasion, building trust, and meeting needs are the tools of your trade.

Call in a Specialist

Part of the solution may be to get a "business ghostwriter" involved. There are strange people out there who are not daunted by the need to generate high volumes of content on a sustained basis. We are the people who didn't blink when the teacher said, "Write a paper of 1,000 words on . . ."

Remember the notion, mentioned above, that this kind of sustained effort is actually more challenging than putting together a major training or policy dissemination event. How peculiar, then, that many organizations are quite comfortable relying on outside help -- whether internal, from a supporting staff function, or external, from contract providers -- to create these individual events, but would never think of drawing on that same help to support a continuing effort to promote particular best practices.

If you only contact your personal trainer after you've eaten too much over the holidays, or two weeks before you want to run in a fund raising event, you'll probably get some help. But you won't be making a sustainable change to your lifestyle that will leave you healthier and more productive.

It's All About Impact

Training and communication events are truly important in spreading best practices in your organization. But to embed those best practices in daily performance, a sustained communication effort will produce much better results.

And that just takes a certain set of skills and abilities to pull off. You may not be built that way, frankly -- or you may be a great content developer who simply doesn't have the time to generate material again and again, on deadline. Maybe a little "ghosting" help could make all the difference. It works in your special projects, and it can work even better for your ongoing efforts.

Again, the harder something is to do, and the bigger the payoff, the more sense it makes to get expert help and apply additional resources. Compared to a one-time training event, an effective sustained communication effort is much more challenging, but does even more to promote actual application of best practices.

So what should your communication helpers be working on?

© 2007 Best Training Practices -- Will Kenny

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