When you spend a few decades doing something you love, you build a reputation. When you speak for a living, there isn’t a lot of debate as to how well you do it. As I’ve always said: “When you do a great job; everyone knows it. When you don’t do a great job; everyone knows it.” I have a career built based on reputation and that’s why it took me by surprise to be sent an RFP, (Request For Proposal,) from a large client who I have done work for over the years. I realized, however, that they are gathering proposals for a much bigger job, so I sharpened my pencil and got to work.
The RFP had a vast array of questions. Some dealt with how the programs I was proposing were to be set up; some dealt with how to bring management on board; and some dealt with what would be needed when the training was completed. I started to get nervous because almost all of my answers drifted back to the same subject: Implementation.
- Setting up training? The key to any training program is the delivery of a measureable process. A measureable process allows those in attendance to leave with a repeatable, predictable method for doing his or her job. This is critical if a company wants to have a realistic opportunity to implement what is being taught.
- Bringing management on board? Successful training comes from the top down, and that means management must attend the training that is proposed. That doesn’t mean “audit” training, or “observe” training. That means management must roll up their sleeves, check their egos at the door, and go through the training. This sends the correct message to the field force. If management truly supports the training, it’s important for everyone to see management participating in the training. It also means that there is a far greater chance the training will be implemented.
- What happens when the training is completed? This is not a question that should be asked when training is completed. It’s a question that should be asked before the training even begins. The easy answer is to create an intelligent follow-up program. The much more difficult answer is to create a game plan that includes a path to implementation. The reason why so many companies conduct training, but never see a follow-up program to the training they have conducted isn’t because one doesn’t exist. It’s because the company never implements the initial training that was delivered and they never make it to a follow-up program. Remember this: A good follow-up program doesn’t reteach what has already been taught; it takes what has been taught and moves it to a deeper level.
I’m a firm believer that it’s not how hard you work to implement, but rather how intelligently you work to implement. The RFP I worked on had a total of twenty-seven questions. I used the word “implement” in eighteen of the answers I provided. So… maybe I’ll win this contract, or maybe I used the word “implement” one too many times. What I do know is this: If training is not implemented, it’s a failure. Who is responsible for this failure? The responsible party is the consultant who proposed and delivered the training. Quite frankly, what else matters if the training that is conducted is not implemented?
Oops. There’s that word again.
(As a side note, on January 28th at 3pm EST, I will be conducting a free, one-hour webinar titled, “Redefining the Art of Persuasion.” The program is scheduled to last one hour and is sponsored by HR.com. If you would like to listen in, and throw some questions my way, you can register for the event at http://www.hr.com/stories/1383845706255)