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

Is a Great Opportunity Slipping Away from You?

the recession may help you offer new and better training services

(reprinted from The Training Tipsheet)

Although progress is slow, the recession seems to be loosening its grip somewhat. Hiring is cautious, businesses are still hunkered down, but we see some cracks in the wall of bad news and gloomy forecasts.

Anecdotally, I know from my clients and colleagues that enrollment in some seminars is creeping upward, that some businesses are starting to re-offer training they may have postponed or canceled, that some low-key development of new material is being booked. Again, it is hardly a surge, but it is movement, and in the right direction.

The prospect of the recession gradually fading away may excite you with a vision of returning to "business as usual." But is that the best strategy?

We all believe that we can continually improve what we offer, in training services, to our organizations and our clients. We may easily overlook, amid all the pain of cutbacks and cancellations, the leverage the recession may have given us in achieving those improvements.

One of the great benefits of the recession, from a training perspective, is precisely that it ended "business as usual." Inertia is perhaps our greatest enemy when we want to change training offerings, develop new approaches, focus on new topics and methods that will produce more benefit for the companies we serve.

In "normal" times, when we recommend new training, or major alterations to existing schemes, it can be hard to get people to sit down and really consider change. Things seem to be going well enough, everyone is too busy to give serious time and attention to your proposals, and shaking things up is difficult.

But the recession has cleared the training slate to a large extent. That means that as conditions improve, instead of just putting things back, we have a great opportunity to work with those we serve to decide just what should be on that slate, and whether it should be different than what was on it before.

What's more, in a perverse twist, recession thinking may help us argue for investment in the crucial training activities that can provide the greatest return to the company, even if it requires developing entirely new programs. When resources are plentiful, it is all too easy to offer popular, faddish courses, and to drift away from a focus on training that will make a difference to the organization's training success.

In the current environment, however, if you can clearly link a training activity to a benefit for the company, you may actually find yourself engaged in a deeper conversation with the individuals who make the budget decisions. Everyone has gotten used to Return-On-Investment thinking, and if you can show management how changing employee behavior will enhance corporate results, you may be able to bring serious attention to a training proposal that might languish in better times.

Of course, you have to be prepared to show the value your training will bring to the organization, and that definitely takes some effort. But if you are willing to make that effort, and if you are focused on the most valuable training contributions to the company, you may actually find it easier to get the ear of the decision makers than it was a couple of years ago.

The recession has changed expectations and the nature of the conversations held around applying resources to advance the company's fortunes, whether through marketing, managing the labor force, processes and equipment, or training. Don't let this opportunity to have those key conversations fade away as the economy works its way toward less daunting conditions.

© 2010 Best Training Practices -- Will Kenny

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