but an adjunct to ourself"...
Good training adds enormous value.
Training fails when it is not thought of as a reproducible process. A simple
training process might consist of planning, up front buy-in, positioning,
self-discovery, use of real examples, accountable follow through, tracking,
leverage, and incentives for planning the next phases.
1. What do your users perceive as
needed? When you poll, are you using training jargon or "real language?" For
instance, do you ask, "What are your teamwork needs?", or do you ask, "Could
our working relationships with each other be improved, and if so,
language has two advantages.
First, your message will be received
more clearly. Teamwork, risk, empowerment, change and quality are words that
invite disparate interpretation. Second, by identifying with your customers you
build trust. Responses are likely to be more honest and more
2. How are
you communicating purpose? Are you clearly positioning training to add to
existing success, polish edges and improve satisfaction while aiding in
productivity? Or, is a hint of "you need to be fixed" getting to your
Moreover, if there is inadequate
understanding of purpose, people are likely to fill in the blanks. With
training, people often assume the worst: it's going to be an "encounter," a
waste of time, embarrassing, boring or more work.
3. Are your users asked to prepare for
the sessions, or do they just show up? Is the preparation germane?
Asking for brief preparation may produce a few groans, but it also
State some expected results. You might ask participants to set goals
for confidential facilitator review, or to write out definitions of a few key
terms. You could present an intriguing problem for preview and response. Peak
interest and generate early involvement. Never sponsor "more
examples or case studies real and current for participants, or are they
Effective training invites participation.
Theory is much less interesting to most,
and time spent here is "just more work." Time spent solving and drawing basic
principles from real concerns is both work completed and knowledge
5. Does your
material treat primarily emotional subjects as if they are primarily
Subjects like teamwork, risk, conflict, empowerment, sales,
management and even quality have strong emotional components.
Many, for instance, are
intellectual experts on good relationships. Why, then, are we often falling
6. Are you
offending intelligent users with off-the-shelf boiler plate material that can
have only general application?
The market is flooded with carefully
packaged training containing formulas, platitudes, buzz words and the latest
this approach do more than scratch the surface? Beyond giving people something
easy to remember, does it give them something to apply that will make a
7. Does the
training impose advice or does it facilitate new thinking?
People learn best through
Behavior change follows habit change. And habit change follows
motivation. People won't change long-standing habit unless they discover the
need themselves. Perceived imposition stimulates our natural resistance to
change. Training that does not result in natural motivation to change cannot
8. Is the
implementation effort global or is it discrete? Can users visualize intended
success, or are they just supposed to "get better?"
Vision means making a clear picture:
"What will it look like when I get there?"
When the implementation focus is fuzzy,
success can only be random. Ask your vendor or designer for more than those
tired "training objectives" (`participants will be able to...'). What actions
will result? What savings? Increased productivity where, and how much? And what
are the guarantees?
Is follow-up planned? Does the follow-up include facilitator and
participant accountability for accomplishments, action plans and assignments?
Is follow-up positioned to build on success, or was the whole effort "just
training" after all?
How are training results tracked so that successes and failures can be
leveraged? What incentives have your facilitators and/or training vendors for
catalyzing continuous improvement in the target areas?
A "hit and run" approach may do more
harm than good, as users' cynicism builds, trust erodes and the organization
freezes at funding "training activity".
Good training is the glue that
integrates all other work in the organization. When participants distill basic
principles from real work sessions, then implement and track, the organization
can learn from both successes and failures.
This article was
reprinted in part from the Learning Center High Performance Teamwork training course
facilitated by Learning Center faculty members.
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