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

Your Training Goal: To Prevent Change

some crucial training is all about preventing change

(reprinted from The Training Tipsheet)

Training professionals like to think of themselves as "change agents." Within your company, it's likely that training is often aimed at altering the behavior of employees.

You may help employees deliver new products and services. You may train them in more efficient procedures, that ultimately support better profit margins. You may provide basic orientation and job training for new employees. And you may bring any of a host of topics before your company's employees to help them communicate and work together better, to respond to new situations or changing conditions, and so on.

All of that falls under the heading of "get employees to act differently," usually with a fairly clearly identifiable (if not always precisely measurable) benefit to the company.

But preventing employees from changing their behavior often has significant benefits to an employer, as well. Unfortunately, management frequently has a hard time remaining aware of those benefits (and the need to invest in them). And training departments, whose responsibility it is, at least in part, to keep those change-preventing training needs in front of management, may shy away from that struggle.

Why would you prevent change? Once you have trained all your employees in how to do things right -- safety procedures, legal compliance, respectful workplace, documentation, quality assurance, and so on -- you can count on seeing "drift" if you leave it to those employees to continue to remember and apply that training. You will find shortcuts creeping in, or (unnecessary) exceptions. They will apply their learning less consistently, less strictly, and different units or locations will evolve different styles of behavior around these topics.

Eventually, they will make errors in procedures and preferred practices that will work against profit margins. At the low end, they will become less efficient. At the high end, they will cause catastrophic events that lead to bad publicity, significant human and financial costs, and legal action against the employer.

Maintenance training, then, has the potential to make an enormous contribution to the organization. But we all know it is easier to "sell" a brand new course or seminar than it is to get managers to give us their employees' time for "refresher" or reinforcing training. Are you willing to fight that fight, to work diligently to bring up training needs that management is inclined to forget about?

This is probably an easier conversation to have in a manufacturing firm. Manufacturers understand maintenance. They know that if they cut corners on taking care of their equipment in the short term, they will pay more for replacement, and for downtime, product quality issues, and even customer satisfaction in the long term.

At service firms, you'll have to work harder, perhaps. But the benefits to your company can be significant, making it well worth the effort to make sure there is the right balance between training on new behaviors and maintenance training.

That balance should be reflected in your training budget. And it also has to be reflected in management support for employee time away from their posts, and in the endorsement and support of maintenance training displayed by supervisors.

It is not easy. It is worth it.

And that sounds like a pretty good summary of the life of a training professional, does it not?

© 2012 Best Training Practices -- Will Kenny

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