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

Are You in the Right Loop?

trade associations -- the RIGHT ones -- are important to training

(reprinted from The Training Tipsheet)

In the last issue of The Training Tipsheet, I wrote about anticipating the future, both "the dangerous future" and "the helpful future." The idea is that your training function better serves your company when you are looking ahead to coming changes for your industry and your company's business. Preparing to support the company's reactions to future threats and opportunities contributes much more to everyone's success than does reacting -- often in haste -- to these situations after they have arrived.

But how do you know what's coming, what's ahead for your industry? I mentioned that trade associations can be very helpful, that one of their primary functions is to monitor business conditions, from legislative trends to technology, and help their members figure out what they can expect in a couple of years.

Now, many, many of the professional training staff one meets within companies and at conventions and other events would say that they belong to trade associations. But which ones?

If you work in training and the only associations you belong to are organizations like the American Society for Training and Development (ASTD), or the International Society for Performance Improvement (ISPI), a human resources group, or a similar training-focused association, you are not getting all the information you need . . . and you are not serving your company as well as you could.

Oh, sure, you are hearing about the latest on-line technology for course delivery, say. But you aren't learning enough about the particular industry you serve.

To put it plainly, if you provide training for a company in banking or financial services, you should belong to the appropriate banking associations, or at least have a way to follow all the information they provide. Or you might belong to an association devoted to a particular manufacturing niche, or a service industry.

The point is to belong to the associations that other people in your company belong to. If you wait for your company leadership to pick up information from their trade associations, and then share what you need to know to anticipate the future complexion of your training function, you'll always be catching up.

After all, you are the training professional. That means that you can look at the changes projected for your industry and figure out what aspects of those changes will require a training response. That's your specialty, and your expertise is much more powerful when applied to unfiltered information about the industry, without waiting for that information to wind its way to you through several layers of people.

Don't wait for, and depend on, others in the company to tell you the future. Get plugged into primary sources of information about where you are headed. You'll move from reacting to change to anticipating change, and you'll also find that you have better conversations with those you serve, in your company, as you become more aware of the issues and concerns that command their attention every day.

© 2009 Best Training Practices -- Will Kenny

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