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

Becoming Invisible

routinely serving your company can make your value hard to see

(reprinted from The Training Tipsheet)

There is a certain satisfaction in seeing our services in routine use. When we have become an automatic part of the business operations of a company, we know that we are perceived as providing value, as contributing to the organization's success.

But if you think about elements of your personal life and your business life on which you routinely depend to get through the day successfully, you will realize how invisible many of those elements have become to you.

When you get up and get ready to head to work each day, you handle many objects without even seeing them. You perform routine actions without any awareness at all, unless something goes wrong. Indeed, many daily practices command so little of your attention now that you are sometimes unsure of whether you have performed them at all, and that is why we have those nagging doubts about whether we closed the garage door or turned off the iron.

When you get to work, you probably depend on technology to get through your day. And you get through long stretches of time without ever thinking of the technical staff who keep things running. As long as your daily routine holds true, you give little thought to the fact that some staff in your company focus most or all of their work time on supporting the technology that supports you.

In the same way, there are probably many routine training activities in your organization, from orientation and basic training for the newly hired, to reinforcing instruction on ethics, harassment, and other workplace issues, to specialized training in particular procedures and strategies. And these activities, too, appear to be just part of the usual business routine to the managers and supervisors who depend upon them to develop effective employees.

Unfortunately, there is a difference between technology support and training support. When a computer crashes, a virus spreads, or a process requires modifications in software to produce better results, managers immediately think of the technical staff. They know that those are the individuals with the expertise to contribute to rapid and effective solutions.

But there are many, many times when managers face problems that should include training as a component of the solution. Yet they do not immediately contact the training function to solicit ideas and explore next steps. They think of "training" as the people who deliver those routine classes, not as the people who solve new problems.

While complaining about this state of affairs can be fun, working constantly to raise awareness of what training can -- and cannot -- do for the company is a better approach. Looking for ways to make training more visible as a valuable business activity should be an explicit objective of any training department.

Start by reviewing the contacts you have with other functions outside of routine training delivery. If they never hear about you or from you, except in regard to arranging the usual classes, they are not going to call on your department in many situations where you could be highly valuable, where you could save them a lot of time and produce better outcomes than they can achieve on their own.

In your daily routine, there are many objects and actions that you look right at, but never see. That's fine for getting yourself ready for work in the morning.

But it isn't a very good way to protect and nurture the training function in your company.

© 2010 Best Training Practices -- Will Kenny

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