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

Process Vs. Outcomes

talk less about what you do and more about what they get

(reprinted from The Training Tipsheet)

Whether you work in a central training function for a large organization, providing training support for various functions and units within your company, or you run your own independent training business, offering training services to various clients, you naturally spend significant time in conversations with people who are not themselves trainers, but who welcome your help in guiding their employees to the best practices to meet the company's needs.

If we were to record and replay some of these conversations, which of the following would we hear you talk about more: what you will do, or what your internal or external client will get as a result?

I suspect that most of those conversations are dominated by discussions of activities, the doing part of it. We talk about how many training sessions will have, how long they will be, all the elements of creating and delivering our training "products."

But the people you are talking to would rather spend a little less time talking about your world, and a lot more time talking about theirs.

Certainly you do not mean to focus on yourself, or your training function, as you work with the company units that need your help. But we are all more comfortable talking about what we know well, and what you know well is how to describe your training activities.

You have much to gain by consciously monitoring yourself, deliberately accepting a little discomfort, and doing all you can to focus the conversation on the outcomes, or benefits, the training will produce. If the goal of the training is, say, to raise the level of compliance with regulations or guidelines, have a conversation about "compliance," not about "classes." If a new seminar will cover practices that can improve the results for the sales department, have a conversation about how to help the sales reps sell more, not about "sales training."

For sure, you have to talk about the practical details of the training you will provide. I am just saying that all too often, those details occupy the majority of your attention in these crucial conversations. Go for the minority position, help your "clients" (internal or external) to talk about their needs, their results, the outcomes they are looking for as much as possible.

And if you really have the courage to get outside your comfort zone, to provide maximum benefit to the company, don't just talk about what a given unit will get out of the training, have a conversation about how they will know they got it.

This all takes more effort than you may think. It is a skill that takes time to develop, because you are fighting against strong patterns of human nature.

But it is worth it. The more you talk about the benefits to your clients, the more you benefit through their support. The secret to being routinely included in the business conversation is to spend less time harping on the training conversation.

The path to greater influence for the training function in a company is through the client's ears. The more they hear about their concerns, about the changes they want to see and how their employees will work after the training, the more willing they will be to embrace your expertise about how to get that done.

© 2009 Best Training Practices -- Will Kenny

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