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

See Foot, Shoot Self In Same

Training life is tough. So what?

(reprinted from The Training Tipsheet)

I understand, I really do, that in most corporate environments it is a struggle to get the training function taken seriously by the rest of the organization. By "seriously," I mean things like adequate funding, early consultation on strategic changes and their implementation, and, less tangibly, feeling like a valued partner rather than a necessary evil when dealing with other functions and departments.

There are lots of reasons this is a challenge for most of us. Some of the benefits we provide are not easily measured. Some good outcomes are the absence of problems -- safety, compliance with regulations, low incidence of harassment or ethical issues, for example -- so that training can make a major contribution, but it is not obvious in the daily work flow.

But I can't tell you how many training departments make things worse. Instead of working harder to build connections and earn the trust of other functions, they shoot themselves in their collective feet in several ways:

  • Lecturing, Whining, and Begging. Continually reminding people that training is a wonderful thing and deserves their respect really gets under their skin after a while.
  • "Please, Sir, can I have more?" More money certainly can help in specific ways, but it will not make everything great. If your effectiveness is always tied to dollars, especially when every department in the company is feeling the pain, you're in for a rough ride.
  • Low-Cost Provider. If every conversation about new training initiatives is focused on cost, rather than investment, you'll never achieve partner status with your colleagues in other functions.
  • Fast, Cheap, Convenient Delivery Guaranteed! There is a lot more to training than delivery of information. When discussions jump to events or on-line courses right away, without respect for careful design, you're close to becoming a commodity. And when convenience for employees and their managers, and cost factors, demand on-line delivery of almost everything, designing for maximum impact has already gone out the window.
  • Ignorance of the Business. If your department does not truly understand the business of the company you work for, and the daily working concerns of department heads, you don't have much to talk to them about. Pure "training-speak" will never earn their trust.
  • More Is Always Better. Some requests or suggestions for training, from other departments and functions, should be turned down, if they are not going to provide a decent return to the company on the money and effort poured into them. If you can't resist adding any training, no matter whether it is doomed to be ineffective, you're eroding your brand within the organization.

There are really a couple of key principles that are violated by all of these missteps. The first is that building and managing relationships with other functions is crucial if you want to be less vulnerable to more budget cuts, downsizing, and outsourcing. And those relationships happen at middle and lower levels -- do not even bother me with that "seat at the table" nonsense.

The second is that poor results reduce your status. If you skimp on design and jump to a quick on-line version, if you put on a training event upon request when you know that it is not really a training problem, you provide a short-term response with no long-term benefit. And eventually that will catch up with you.

Training is a demanding profession. Demand professionalism from yourself and those around you, avoiding the amateur mistakes listed above, and you can (patiently) strengthen your position within the organization.

© 2012 Best Training Practices -- Will Kenny

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