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

Damage Reports

not all the information you need is at the top of the organization

(reprinted from The Training Tipsheet)

There comes a moment in many a television show or movie of the Star Trek ilk when our heroes have battled the evil aliens, and the captain calls for "damage reports!" At that point, various decks of the ship, and specialized functions such as engineering, report what harm they suffered during the attack and perhaps something about what it will take to get things back to normal for them.

Certainly there have been times, during this recession, when your company must have felt like it was under attack by alien forces firing powerful death rays in your direction. The economic downturn may have done a lot of damage to your organization, but as I wrote in the last edition of The Training Tipsheet, it may also have taught you a few things you can use to thrive when better times return.

I suggested, in that earlier article, that training has a key role to play in consolidating those lessons learned in hard times. But if you only look for damage reports and lessons learned at the organizational level, you may be missing opportunities to make even greater contributions to your company's future success.

It is time for you to look through the "damage reports" on a function by function basis. Use all of your available internal networking contacts -- or establish new ones, if you have to -- to find out how those individual departments and divisions have weathered the recession. Look at what adjustments they've made, and most importantly, what adjustments they want to keep, and build upon, as they move forward.

After all, many of the broad strategies your organization has pursued to cope with the economic downturn may play out quite differently in different areas of the company. Take cost-cutting, as an example.

In one department, cost-cutting might focus on better use of materials, with less waste. But in others, some practices may actually produce cost savings for the company only through additional investment at the department level. For instance, in tough times, major litigation, an environmental catastrophe, or government action against the company can be enough to finish you off. Maintaining or enhancing your training around safety, compliance, proper materials handling, appropriate employee interactions, and similar areas fraught with risk may be essential to protecting the company from a fatal blow that it does not have the resources, at the moment, to survive.

As conditions improve, training has a key role to play in preserving more efficient practices discovered in hard times. But the nature of those efficiencies and better practices varies widely by function, and if you don't work at a sufficiently granular level in your organization, you won't deliver all the benefits you could to the organization as a whole.

At the same time, some new functions need to restore practices they set aside, temporarily, during the recession. Goals and standards that have been downgraded in the minds of your front-line employees need to regain at least some of their former importance. Practices that were sacrificed in a desperate bid for survival may play key roles in building success for the company as things get better. And you need to get close to the front lines to see where training can produce the greatest impact.

Economic recovery offers huge opportunities to gain a competitive step on your rivals. Relying solely on a high-level, big picture, return to "what was normal before the recession" approach is not likely to deliver on those opportunities. Make the effort to get out and collect reports from all decks of the ship, so you can do your bit, through training services, to help your company travel faster and farther than ever before.

© 2009 Best Training Practices -- Will Kenny

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