Yesterday I shared my not so subtle opinions about why training is often a waste of time. I mentioned a couple common problems:
1. I think the focus of training is often wrong.
2. I think training methods don't facilitate short-term or long-term application.
3. Many training sessions are taught by the wrong people.
So what is the alternative? I realize that some of my comments might fit into the "don't bite the hands that feed you," category because I am a consultant and trainer for hire. I would LOVE to do training for your company and I think it is important you know where I stand on how training ought to be done. Here are a few thoughts:
- Teach a man to fish....
- Teach topics and people learn topics. Teach people how to own, think, relate, and work, they figure out and seek out the topics they need to understand.
- Sheep dip and you have a flock of sterile sheep. This is a fine approach if your employees have fleas.
The focus of your core training should be on creating the space and capability for great thinking and relationships. Engaged and focused individuals and teams will determine the development they need and seek it. To support this highly able workforce, your training resources should be nimble, flexible, and highly custom to each group.
"Oh, but Lisa, we are a huge corporation with hundreds of thousands of employees in different sites. We can't do this. It is highly impractical and tough to measure. Our competency model is the backbone of you training."
Impractical? And the current system makes sense? Tough to measure? Not if you focus on the right metrics. Yep, you can do this and it will cost less than your precious university concept and expensive and fancy knowledge management software (don't get me started on corporate universities and fancy software to track training or "knowledge"). And if your competency model is the backbone of your training, you are likely paralyzed and unable to lift your performance.
I want to train people to think well, work together well, think better together, and plan and execute work. When I am successful, all the other stuff pops up when and if needed. This is the 20% cream of the crop development that gets you the 80% of performance and success.
- Another 3 day training class? Calgon take me away!
- Another offsite retreat? Even the king with no clothes can see this is barely helpful.
- It's like the husband who buys his wife a waffle iron for a gift. He wants waffles! When we schedule these events, we make ourselves feel better. Training professionals justify their existence with classroom days and 4.9s out of 5s on smile sheets.
- Corporate universities = MACRO approach. Think MICRO NICHE.
Traditional classroom training and online versions that mimic this are not very effective. Sometimes it is great to kick things off, I guess. Classroom stuff is not designed to last. I prefer shorter and more frequent contacts APPLIED to real projects, real goals, real situations.
Like many of you, I have been to some great multi-day training sessions. The five days I spent at Sundance doing the Covey Leadership Week were great. A great perk for me. The instructors were great. I did the morning exercise classes. Sundance was wonderful (even without a Redford sighting). I was grateful to my employer for sending me. I needed the recharge. Did I change my daily habits? Very few. It is OK to offer your managers the opportunity to go to events to meet others and have some fun. And they might learn a few things. But mostly, these events are just that - events. And the costs - zoowwyy!
Let's say a team has a large project they need to plan and implement. There are many developmental needs that will pop up during this project. That's when to work on these things. Spending 30 minutes, three times per week, or one hour, once per week, will go much farther than sending them to a five day project management class months before their project starts. And the topics in the project management class are not likely the same stuff that will come up if you work with the team as the project is unfolding.
"Oh, but Lisa, we are a huge corporation with hundreds of thousands of employees in different sites. We can't do this. It is highly impractical and tough to measure. Doing classroom training with larger groups is more efficient and cost effective."
How practical is it to launch a huge corporate university and spend more money putting on events and tracking training than it would cost to provide excellent development?
The methods: team and individual coaching, breakthrough facilitation, highly personal and individual approaches to training. Nimble development resources. Think MICRO NICHE.
- Why do people want to be like Tiger?
- Why are people interested in Tom Peters and Seth Godin?
- Why did Guy Kawasaki's brand new blog go instantly Platinum?
We get turned on by people who are turned on by what they do! There are two categories of trainers that I seek:
- Passionate facilitators and evangelists - people who are infectiously energetic and help us find the development we need. They bring in information from others and readily admit when they are not the experts. They jazz our learning muscle.
- Uber experts - people who are so freaking smart and sharp that they make our minds spin and buzz.
I am sorry, but I see no place for prim and proper trainers who have been certified by schools that teach proper flip chart techniques. I used to teach flip charting 101, by the way. I eek out a guilty giggle now just thinking about it.
Find people that can and are driven to help people stimulate their greatness. Those are the trainers you seek. They are internal entrepreneurs, applying a wide variety of methods to help each team, each department, and each individual move forward with velocity and realize satisfying success. They are facilitators extraordinaire. They will have a command of how to create progress.
"Oh, but Lisa, we are a huge corporation with hundreds of thousands of employees in different sites. We can't do this. It is highly impractical and tough to measure. We hire training professionals with a consistent set of skills from reputable certification firms."
Oh, I give up... I love trainers, I really do. They live to help people, and this is very nice. But many of them should not be training your teams and individuals. I want a trainer who is a leader, a visionary, insanely resourceful, and a little bit quirky/off his or her rocker.
What do you think? This is the kind of training I love doing! Really - it is possible, effective, and a beeter use of your resources.