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

The Race for Results: II
First Steps

second in a series: increasing your sustainable capacity to deliver

(reprinted from The Training Tipsheet)

In the last issue of The Training Tipsheet, I mentioned a bookmark from Starbucks that gave ten tips on how to train to run 10K in the "Nike+ Human Race." What had caught my attention was how many of these steps offered good advice to anyone working to create and deliver effective employee communications, including training, to help establish and sustain best business practices within their organizations.

As I mentioned then, most of the employee training in business is developed and delivered by people who are not themselves training specialists(or at least didn't start out that way). While large organizations do have people whose entire function is training -- and both large and small organizations outsource training functions, to various degrees and for various reasons, to professional training developers and facilitators -- it is still the case that a great deal of training is the responsibility of people who have many other duties as well. They pick up training responsibilities because they are good at something, and someone higher up the organization notices and decides that they should make other people good at it, too.

In short, these basic tips are especially helpful for those of you who don't come from a training background. But fundamentals are easy to overlook at any level, so even professional trainers need to get back to basics once in a while.

Tip #1: "Start where you are . . . Don't be afraid to walk as you become a runner." Small successes, in fitness training, are more sustainable. Small steps allow you to prove, first to yourself, that you can do more, or do better. Doing a little, regularly, completely, and well, creates the opportunity to do a little more.

Unfortunately, in corporate life training programs are often a response to crisis, and there's not much you can do about that. But where you can pick your battles, especially if you are new to the training function, make the probability of success, of achieving demonstrable change in the practices employees apply in their work, a major criterion as you choose between possible projects.

Demonstrating success on a small scale is always better than delivering mediocre (or worse!) results on a larger scale. Incremental improvements on several fronts can do more for your credibility, more efficiently, than tackling just a couple of areas of need more aggressively. It's an approach that helps ensure you are around, and fit, to run another day.

Tip #2: "Find a training buddy . . .". Sometimes we fall into a habit of discussing our training efforts, our attempts to influence employee behavior for better results, with the wrong "buddies". We talk to people like ourselves too much.

For running, the best training buddy is probably someone who is somewhat better than you are, but not necessarily a passionate or professional athlete. If they are too far beyond you in their abilities, they have a hard time understanding the struggles you are facing. If they aren't any better than you are, they can provide moral support, but they don't give you a vision of progress, they don't help you see that you can overcome your current obstacles, as well as someone who is a little ahead of you.

Don't settle for buddies who are just like you. Professional trainers spend too much time talking to trainers, and the non-professionals spend to much time talking to people who share operational interests, rather than training ones.

The best buddies? Look for people who are solving similar problems, in different departments or functions. Get communication ideas from other managers, from marketing and compliance and HR staff, from quality assurance or anyone who strives to influence employee behavior. Just as a buddy who is focused on bicycling could help you stick to your running program, colleagues who are tackling similar employee communications challenges, but with different topics and contexts, can do a lot to broaden your perspective on potential solutions. (See my article, "Could You Have a Friend in Marketing?")

We'll have more tips from this handy little bookmark next time . . .

© 2008 Best Training Practices -- Will Kenny

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Ready to Race?
(1st in this series)

Race Cont'd (III)
Training to Fit Your Organization

What You Wanted To Be When You Grew Up . . .

Could You Have a Friend in Marketing?