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

The Race for Results: III
Do It Your (Organization's) Way

build your training practices to fit your needs and environment

(reprinted from The Training Tipsheet)

Recently, The Training Tipsheet has focused on a little bookmark I picked up at Starbucks that gives ten tips on how to train to run 10K in the "Nike+ Human Race." As we have seen, several of the "basics" they explain, for someone running in their first 10K race, are good "basics" for those of us who work to establish and sustain best business practices, in our own organizations and in those of our clients.

In this issue, we'll look at most of the remaining tips (skipping a couple that don't apply directly).

  • Tip #3: Get the right gear. Different runners have different needs. I was recently at a conference where training directors in one- and two-person shops, from small- to medium-sized businesses, were fascinated by how training was managed at one of the largest corporations in the world. That's fun to listen to, but make sure your strategies apply specifically in your environment.
  • Tip #5: Pace yourself. Start your run easy and then speed up if you feel good. As I've mentioned before, early successes build support and help you learn how to be even more effective. Don't start by attempting the "killer app" of training or employee communication when you are trying to establish your training function as a valued player within the organization.
  • Tip #6: See the forest and the trees. Have a multi-week training plan leading up to the race, but tackle it one day at a time. This is a big challenge, balancing the day-to-day with strategic planning. Some departments are so caught up in their brilliant future, when they will apply all that great new technology, that their current training efforts are neglected. More commonly, training in response to the latest perceived crisis can suck up all your time so that you never get to the longer-term planning that you need.
  • Tip #8: Form your pit crew (e.g., massage or physical therapist to manage aches and pains). Therapists aren't necessarily runners, but they can help you run. Look for colleagues who aren't professional trainers to help you with communication ideas, ways to reach and influence employees, insights into the systems they use (that may help or hinder change), ideas about topics and skills that you should cover. You might find friends in IT, marketing, a variety of systems and control functions (including audit and quality assurance), and among line managers who are directly responsible for how employees perform.
  • Tip #10: Be true to you. Train in a way that's right for your abilities. Training is a faddish business. But the great technique mentioned in that article you read, or at that workshop you went to, or by that friend from another company, may have been "great" because it fit a different environment -- a company of a different size, with different demographics in their employee population, with a different history, with a different management structure or geographical dispersion. Being true to your company, in training activities, means taking the culture, the collective employee and management personality, into account to achieve the best results. Collect ideas, by all means, but few of those brilliant ideas floating around out there should be applied without a thorough review and the necessary tweaking to make them fit the way your company works best.

In most business activities, including training, we are more likely to fall short because we have let the fundamentals, the basic practices of our professions, get a little sloppy, than because we haven't mastered the latest, greatest, sexiest tools and techniques. A regular "Back to Basics" review of how you manage your training activities is one of the most powerful habits you can develop to stay "healthy" within the organization.

© 2008 Best Training Practices -- Will Kenny

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Ready to Race?
(1st in this series)

Race for Results II:
First Steps

Could You Have a Friend in Marketing?

"Best Practices" :
Gain, or Just Pain?