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

Keeping Your Head Down?

hiding in tough times is not leadership

(reprinted from The Training Tipsheet)

In most organizations, under current economic conditions, budget cuts are stalking nearly every function and department. Many who work in training and employee communications feel that their functions get hit particularly hard in a downturn, that training is an easy thing to cut.

We could argue about whether that "easy to cut" tendency can be avoided, or at least moderated, by appropriate strategies in good times, but it is a little late for that.

Rather, I'll observe that some training directors, learning officers, and their HR colleagues are keeping their heads down, trying not to draw attention to themselves, as a way of avoiding further pain. They feel safer pursuing programs of moderate usefulness that don't require much defense, than they do fighting for new and different approaches that require more persuasion of colleagues and superiors.

Basically, we keep doing what we are doing, but on a smaller scale, hoping to ride out the storm.

But the company may be facing radically different conditions than it was a year ago. And the best training response to the new situation may be very different than what was formerly the best training and employee communications strategy.

So it comes down to the question of whose interests you put first. It may be less wear and tear on the training department to just carry on, hoping not to pop up on the radar too often.

But it will probably serve your organization better if you take a fresh look at what is appropriate for current conditions and the responses your company leadership has chosen, and then tackle the new environment, and new needs, with new services.

It is easy to dismiss that as folly, to say you'll never get the resources, to think of it as departmental suicide.

Perhaps that is so, in your particular organization, and if it is, I'm not inclined to think your company will emerge from the current mess strong and ready to compete.

But in most cases, once you identify what you should be doing, you can still explore ways to get it done. Perhaps you have to abandon (or suspend) programs you have run in the past to divert resources to current, urgent needs. Perhaps you have to build new alliances with other units within the organization, pooling resources to deliver training that will help specific functions cope with the new rules of the game.

Truth to tell, you'll never know what resources and strategies you might pursue if you don't first re-evaluate the needs of the organization under current business conditions. And if all you are doing is trying to lie low, you may be serving your department and staff, but you probably aren't serving your company.

It is largely a question of leadership, which is hard. If you're at the head of a training/employee communication function, do you want to lead it, or just run it? Are you willing to take risks that will contribute to the organization's success, or do you just want to grow your budget and head count (or hold on to as much as possible of what you have)?

Let's face it, in today's economy, nobody in your company is very comfortable at the moment. What better time is there to step outside your comfort zone and do battle for the things that will really make a difference to your organization's future?

© 2009 Best Training Practices -- Will Kenny

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