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

Fly on the Wall

talk to your internal clients before they make assumptions

(reprinted from The Training Tipsheet)

Great training departments anticipate trends and get involved in discussions of new needs and desired changes early in the game.

By the time your internal clients have realized that training is part of the solution to some new challenge, or part of the strategy for seizing a perceived opportunity, they have already started to visualize some of the specific details of that training. This is just natural human behavior: they need some kind of concept of "the training" to carry around in their heads as they grapple with the situation.

But they are not training professionals, and their concept of how training services will help them overcome obstacles and achieve their goals may be deficient in any number of ways.

More importantly, those concepts, those visualizations of "the training," almost always prove to be limiting. By the time they talk to you, they are far down the trail, and the urgency they feel to keep moving makes it very hard to back them up and start the training design process from scratch.

Better if you can get involved in the conversation much earlier. And one of the best ways to insert yourself into thinking about training needs at an earlier stage is to become adept at eavesdropping.

How can you insert yourself into the communication channels of your most important internal "customers" for your training services? More importantly, how can you insert your ears without inserting your mouth, collecting information without being distracting, speaking up only when the time is ripe?

Can you go to the occasional staff meeting of another department, sit and observe, and say nary a word? Are there regular updates on department activities, and could you get copied on those distribution lists? Could you silently listen in on important regional conference calls of district managers?

Can you build relationships with other department heads that will get you (or one of your staff) invited to meetings where new developments are likely to be discussed? It will take a lot of patience, a lot of persistence, and above all, a lot of silence to build their trust that you are engaged just because you want to be more responsive to their needs, to deliver better service, faster, rather than trying to force training on them, or in any way try to manage their employees for them.

This is a long term effort, and it isn't easy. But it is well, well worth it.

© 2012 Best Training Practices -- Will Kenny

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