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

Good Trainers Are Good Historians

previous attempts to solve a problem set the stage for your training work

(reprinted from The Training Tipsheet)

Often when a client (internal or external) goes looking for professional training help, there's already an important history behind the request. While new events, regulations, products, and so on may generate a direct need for more training, much of the training we create begins with failed efforts by some department's management to fix the problem on their own.

It all begins when management realizes they have a problem, whether that is within a small unit or across a corporate function or practice. It could be a safety issue, or a customer service issue, or a compliance issue, or a "respectful workplace" issue, but some people within the organization decide that the staff that report to them need to change their behavior. They need to do their jobs differently.

So they call up the training department? Not likely.

They bring it up in staff meetings. They send out memos. They may put up signs, or have one-on-one talks with employees, or pull all their staff into a room for a special announcement about how things need to change.

But little changes.

So they have more meetings, but they are crankier and louder. They send more memos, put up more signs, with a lot less tact and a generally more threatening tone.

And when it becomes clear that employees are not responding to this regimen, they decide to hand the problem to someone else. They call in the trainers.

Now, when you arrive on that scene, you may not be given the history. All that cajoling and bullying will be conveniently overlooked. The people who want you to train their staff will explain the need they see, what they want to change, and ask you to find a way to make that change happen.

But you would be wise to probe their history, for several reasons:

  1. Knowing what has not worked can save you a lot of time wasted repeating those mistakes.
  2. Knowing what the employees have experienced can be invaluable in figuring out how to approach them, how to gain their acceptance instead of just reinforcing their current frustration.
  3. Having that conversation with management shines a light on the value of professional training knowledge and skills.

While the first two elements certainly have practical value, the third may be most important. By helping management revisit what they tried that did not work, they become more aware of why they need you. They elevate their action from simple delegation to strategic partnership in improving performance.

Training that avoids minefields laid down in the past is bound to be more effective.

Training that is supported by management because they respect and value the special skills you offer is likely to have lasting results.

© 2012 Best Training Practices -- Will Kenny

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