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

In the Spirit of Compromise

which departments do you avoid entirely?

(reprinted from The Training Tipsheet)

The last election generated a lot of commentary on the need for compromise, raising questions about who can, and cannot, work together for the common good. Many wonder if various factions that have not gotten along all that well in the past can overcome their history to produce better outcomes.

In any large organization, there's a pretty good chance that the training department gets along with some functions and units much better than it does others. While one department head might actively seek help from the training function, and another at least works smoothly with the training staff, still others seem to put themselves off limits.

Why they do not invite the training department to play a role within their own units is sometimes a mystery, sometimes the result of some event in the past, sometimes founded on assumptions and misconceptions.

But what really matters is your reaction to their attitude. When faced with a department that may not have welcomed your efforts in years past, do you write them off? Do you just stop trying?

Or do you patiently work to keep opportunities for compromise and cooperation open?

As in the national political arena, training departments are often faced with a choice between partisanship -- standing up for the way the training department usually works with other functions -- and service to the organization. And some of them have a hard time swallowing their pride and chipping away, patiently, subtly, persistently, at the resistance they get from certain managers and department heads.

Once you stop worrying about whether you are doing things your way or their way, once you forget about "how things look," once you have the courage to admit that pride and appearances affect how you approach these reluctant internal customers, you may discover many, many options that will allow you to creep forward. If you are genuinely determined to be helpful, it won't matter to you how small the first steps may be, or who gets credit for them.

It is mostly a matter of keeping the conversation going. Your first job, in fact, is exactly that, earning the opportunity to keep talking. It doesn't matter how many times a department says "No" to you, as long as each time they do, they accept the fact that you will ask again.

Only stony silence can keep you from serving your company by helping the very departments who have trouble seeing how they can benefit from your services. And it takes two to create that kind of unproductive silence.

In the months to come, you will see, and grumble about, many examples of stubbornness, of different players in our government, talking past one another, of stalemates that could be broken with just a little more patience, a little more good will, and a little more ingenuity. Let those examples be reminders of some of the closed doors, in your own organization, that you haven't knocked on in a while. Get determined, get humble, and get creative: you have little to lose, and you, your colleagues in other functions, and the company as a whole have much to gain.

© 2010 Best Training Practices -- Will Kenny

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