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Best Training Practices
Will Kenny
3927 York Ave N
Robbinsdale, MN 55422
612-978-3050

"Man, you're working awfully hard!"

enhance ROI on communication with expertise, not just effort

We all know how to run. At least, that's what we think.

A good number of years ago, a pal of mine who had never been much for exercising took up running. He was doing graduate work, writing his thesis, so he had no set schedule, and found he was sitting around a lot, and definitely taking in more calories than he was burning off.

So he started running. And he had never been on a sports team or in a training program, so he was new to this. He got some shoes, put on some shorts, and just began running, increasing his distance as he got used to it.

One day he was jogging along when another runner, an older fellow, happened to come up alongside him. They exchanged greetings, and jogged along together on the part of their routes that overlapped. After several minutes of this, the other runner suddenly said, "Man, you're working awfully hard!"

What he meant was that my friend was wildly inefficient. His arms and legs were flailing all over the place, and he was wasting a lot of energy that could have gone into running. The older fellow gave him a few tips, and after that, my friend became a much better runner, eventually running several marathons.

We all know how to communicate, we think. Sharing ideas for best practices, giving advice, helping others grasp a point of view, explaining things, we've all done them and have watched others do them.

But, like my running friend, when we are engaged in serious communications that can truly contribute to our organization's success, when we raise the stakes, we may discover that we aren't performing at a level that will have the impact we seek.

This is common, in part, because enormous numbers of people have been chosen to coach, train, guide their colleagues to best practices precisely because they themselves were good at what they did. But "what they did" was, ironically, not training or coaching. And doing something well is a lot different than getting someone else to do the same thing well (or at all), as every parent, teacher, and supervisor knows.

My friend is good at a great number of things, but when he took up running, he had no idea how to do it. He just made his best guess, and fortunately, he found someone with the experience to help him get a lot more out of his efforts, a better "return on investment." My friend thought he was copying the actions he'd seen, in countless runners that passed him in his daily life, but it turned out that there was a good deal more to it than that.

If you're spreading best practices, capturing experience and knowledge, providing resources for employees that will advance corporate goals, you are probably getting the job done. But maybe you could get the same job done with less effort, or do a better job with the same effort, if you had the experience of someone whose expertise is in training or communication. That someone could be very like you, but with more experience; or a professional trainer or training developer; or associates in marketing, PR, and other fields where communication is their constant focus.

Isn't it worth getting some help to make sure you are not flailing around, when you could be striding gracefully forward?

© 2007 Best Training Practices -- Will Kenny

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