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

Happy No Whining New Year!

avoid these five common whines about working in training

(reprinted from The Training Tipsheet)

As you look ahead to the coming year, thinking about how you are going to carry out your role for your company, you are probably keenly aware of the past year's frustrations and ongoing challenges for your training department. Training is a tough business, internal clients are not always great partners, and it is easy to decide that life – that is, work – is not fair.

Funny, but that's just what your internal clients are thinking. They have their own challenges and frustrations, and they are not too keen on hearing about yours.

In the interests of promoting more cordial relations with your clients, of establishing better working relationships with the other functions and departments you serve, here are five areas where you might declare "no whining" zones:

  1. "We need a bigger training budget." That is probably true, as it is a rare organization that makes sufficient investment in training and educating their people. But it isn't the training department that needs a bigger budget, it is the client departments that need bigger training budgets. In other words, the way to drive more investment in training is to produce good outcomes for your internal clients, so that they see the value they receive, and they seek additional investment in your services.
  2. "They don't understand." Whether "they" is management, or your internal clients, or other functions competing with you for resources, lack of understanding of your role and how you perform it is a chronic issue. Let me remind you that as a professional trainer you are a professional communicator. Cultivating understanding and awareness, changing how other units perceive the training department, sounds like a classic education and communication problem. It is one you should be able to solve.
  3. "They don't bring us in until the last minute, after the decisions are made." Whether it's a new process, a new product launch, or some other desired change in performance or behavior, it is not unusual for one of your clients to get pretty far down the planning path before they think about training. That's why it is up to you to establish relationships that allow you to keep an ear on new developments in your client departments. When you know their key strategies, and how those evolve throughout the year, you have an opportunity to make your clients aware of better ways to use your services.
  4. "They want to do everything on the cheap." If you let your internal clients equate "training" with "delivery", then delivery costs end up being the focus of the discussion. Part of the solution is to focus on results, their return on investment – which means making a determined effort to follow-up over longer periods of time to assess the behavior change among participants in your training. Another part is a willingness to make the punishment fit the crime, that is, to invite a larger investment to solve a larger problem, and to be willing to solve small problems "on the cheap".
  5. "We want a seat at the (management) table." I can't tell you how many times I've heard this one. I sometimes think it is as much a matter of pride as it is of effectiveness. Surely, you will feel more important with that "seat at the table". But your overall effectiveness, your value to the organization, and in the end, your perceived value with management all rest with your seats at the tables of your internal clients. If you do not have strong ongoing relationships with the other departments and functions you serve, if you cannot play a role earlier in their planning processes, that seat at the management table may not get you much.

We complain about lack of resources, lack of support, lack of this and that because, as training professionals, we can see, better than most, the contribution we could make to the company's success. A little more focus on managing how others perceive us, on building deeper ongoing relationships with clients, will do infinitely more to help us realize that contribution than any amount of complaining about our lot.

© 2013 Best Training Practices -- Will Kenny

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