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

The Eye of the Storm

YOU have to be the calm center when training seems urgent

(reprinted from The Training Tipsheet)

When it's hurricane season, we know that in the middle of those battering winds and torrential rains, those chaotic and destructive forces, there lies a calm center.

And providing that calm center, being the eye of the storm when a sudden demand for training arises, is one of the marks of the training professional.

As I write, I'm watching developments in a corporation that is struggling financially. Some members of their executive team have, bless them, championed a round of intense training to improve performance, and importantly, instill a uniform vision, shared strategies, and common practices throughout the organization.

Right now they are aware that there is a lack of strategic alignment both vertically (e.g., front lines vs. support vs. executive committee) and horizontally (different practices, strategies, and values at different geographic locations within the company). They accept the need to assess their alignment issues to more clearly identify where differences occur, so they can be addressed by appropriate training and management communications.

But, driven by the urgency they feel to improve company performance, they are constantly calling for a training schedule, a calendar of dates and topics and formats that addresses their needs. They are jumping into a training delivery plan before they have done the assessment!

Experiences like this are common. Your internal or external client recognizes a problem, decides that training is part of the solution, and goes further to envision, and demand, specific training. And you are either so excited that someone came to you to request training services, or so afraid that the project will go away if you say anything other than "Yes, let's do it!" that you pretty much follow them down the path they have already sketched out.

As a training professional, it is not your job to follow amateurs down any path, especially in haste. Training built on unclear needs and slapdash design do not truly serve your clients, nor do they serve your interests in the long term.

If you slow things down there may indeed be consequences. You may be accused of dragging your feet. The project may be withdrawn if you don't jump into delivering it immediately, based on the client's ideas.

If those things scare you too much, you may quickly find yourself in a downward spiral of diminishing respect from those who use your training services. When you jump to respond to demands from clients that may not address their underlying problems, that may not take advantage of the best delivery options, that may not allow time for careful development, you are going to produce a lot of training that simply does not work. Your client will not see the gains they expected after you deliver the training.

And don't think for a minute that that failure will be regarded as a shared responsibility. It will be a failure of training.

It takes guts to purposefully drag your feet a little. It is easier to play the gung-ho partner than it is to be a calm advisor. The storm has it easy, the eye has the harder role to play.

But a real pro plays that role with determination and confidence, to the benefit of the client and of the training function.

© 2012 Best Training Practices -- Will Kenny

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