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

Are You Dumb Enough To Provide Effective Training?

asking dumb questions is a valuable training service

(reprinted from The Training Tipsheet)

I frequently use this space to encourage training professionals to build closer relationships with their internal clients. I urge them to remain engaged with the departments and functions they serve, through their training efforts, to develop a broader perspective on needs and trends, to become more than simply delivery people.

But with that said, it is also important to remember that you remain an outsider to those departments, to some extent, no matter how well you work with them, no matter how good your ongoing communications with them. And that's a good thing, because outsiders bring an incredibly valuable element to the development of effective training.

They ask the dumb questions.

One of the dumbest -- and most useful -- is, "Why?" As your internal clients describe the changes they want to see in employees (and changing behavior is the ultimate purpose of training), they sometimes perpetuate patterns that have been there a long time just because of that history, just because it's a habit. Or they propose a training approach or format, or a specific goal or topic, that seems logical to them without having thought about the matter as deeply as might be wished.

That's your cue to ask, "Why do you want to do it that way?" "Why do you want your staff to do that?" "What's going wrong now that makes you want to make this change?" "How do you think taking this approach will make things better?" (And sometimes you need to ask, "Do you really think that training is the answer to this problem?")

It is easy to assume that these fundamental questions have already been addressed. Too often we assume that our clients have thought through these issues before they come to us to discuss training solutions.

Bad assumptions. The professional response to assumptions that can undermine training effectiveness is to question them.

Now, that takes some guts. Your clients can get a little prickly when they come into a meeting assuming that they are just going to sign off on "the new class" they have in mind, only to find you questioning why they need it!

That's where that good relationship you have been cultivating comes into play. The stronger the working relationship you have with your clients, the more they will trust that any questions you have are sincere and worthwhile.

Your smartest clients, internal or external, will learn to value your outside perspective. They'll encourage you to ask the dumb questions, to make sure they haven't jumped over some basic consideration that could significantly affect their return on their training investment.

So get close to your clients. But don't give up one of the most valuable aspects -- most valuable to your clients -- of your outside perspective.

© 2012 Best Training Practices -- Will Kenny

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