There’s a battle that’s been brewing for some time now in the field of training.  This battle is between those who have been trained, and those who manage those who have been trained.  In short, management believes that when they have invested in a process, but golly they want that process implemented.  Those who have been trained believe that they cannot, and will not implement a process that doesn’t allow flexibility in its application.

Well I say both parties are right… and wrong.  How’s this for a stand?  With thirty years in the industry under my belt, I’d like to weigh in on this issue, and I’ll do a better job then leaving you with a, “right and wrong” answer.

It begins in the training itself, so let’s start there.  One of the first litmus tests for training involves the use of a process.  Having been trained by Xerox, I will always believe that if you want to teach something of value that has a prayer of being implemented, it needs to follow a measureable process, and that process needs to be repeatable and predictable.

The problem is, those who go through the training often cannot separate the need for a process, and the reminder that it is not a straightjacket.  If that’s not communicated in the training, then the training fails.  If it is communicated, then trainees need to hear the message, and not blame the training for its inflexibility.  One way around this is to not just perform role-plays that rehearse everything taught in its entirety, but to allow for case studies and simulations that allow trainees to pick through the process.  That gives the trainees real world applications, and earns their buy in to actually use what they have learned.

Now let’s turn our attention to management.  With an obsession to not just protect their investment, but reap the rewards of the training conducted, often management loses sight of the need for real world application and defines success by how closely one adheres to the process.  One way around this is to not just teach trainees a process, but teach management how to interpret and coach the process.  That means not just teaching them how a process works, but how it works in the real world.

If we can do that, we can achieve the ultimate victory, and that’s trainees benefiting from training, management supporting the training, and the corporation achieving a cultural change in behavior.  When you add all that together, it equals a successful return on investment.  Oh, and it earns those who work in the training industry like me the privilege to continue to work with existing clients.  A homerun for everyone!

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