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I have a headache – give me a sticking plaster! | Pithon

I have a headache - give me a sticking plaster!

Two key considerations to link training to your business strategy.

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Have you ever wondered why it is that training is so often the first budget to be cut when competition in business is causing a company to experience hard times?

If an Olympic athlete anticipates harder-than-usual competition for the coveted gold medal, would you recommend that they begin their preparation by cutting out training?

Crazy as it may seem when considered in a logical, reasoned way, it is a fact that in many organisations, training is seen as the obvious point to start when cuts have to be made. In this feature, Paul Hazell, Director, PITHON Limited examines some of the reasons why this is and explains how appropriate training for training teams can help reverse this phenomenon. Two key factors are identified, which Paul calls the "What" factor and the "Impact" factor to ensure that training hits the right spot. These two factors are represented by the acronym "NEW WAY".

What do People in Your Organisation get out of Training?

People rarely deliberately make business decisions that they know will hinder the progress of the organisation they work for. We must therefore assume that when they choose to cut training first, they do so because they perceive that training is the cut that is least likely to have an adverse impact on profit and growth. What does that tell you about how they see the training function in that organisation?

Compare this kind of perception of training with that of one client company who recently tracked for 2 months the 10 participants they put through a Negotiating Effectively programme. At the end of the two months they had identified almost Euros250,000 of increased bottom line directly attributable to the application by the participants of the techniques learned on the course. Would they be likely to cut out negotiation skills training if they perceived that business was becoming more competitive?

To obtain some understanding as to why these apparently illogical decisions to cut training are made, we need to look a little closer at the nature of the training being delivered in these companies.

Does Your Training Give You What You WANT?....or What You NEED?

When we look closer at the training being delivered in many companies, a picture emerges of training that has not been focussed effectively on the needs of the business. The trainers in these businesses however often believe that their training is focussed on real needs - usually because someone in the business line asked for it. However wanting a training event is not the same thing as needing it!

It is a little like a patient with a headache going to their doctor and asking for an aspirin - no good doctor will automatically give out aspirin until after they have first examined the patient and discussed their symptoms. The aspirin might bring short term, temporary relief from the headache but it will not cure the underlying cause!

So it is with training. The requests for training made by managers in an organisation are often precipitated by unconscious assumptions made by them about symptoms that are manifesting themselves in the business. The managers request the training they believe would assuage the symptoms. Sometimes they unwittingly ask for the training equivalent of a sticking plaster to cure a headache!

However, as with headaches, there are often many possible underlying causes of those symptoms and no trainer should proceed with writing or buying-in training until they are satisfied that they have identified those underlying causes. The trainer must satisfy themselves that the requested training is necessary to enable the organisation to progress towards achieving its Vision and Mission. If the training is not going to contribute in a clearly defined way to achieving the Mission and Vision, then why should the company spend scarce resources and waste the time of its people?

About the author

Written by

Paul has worked as a consultant for more than 20 years, specialising in the human aspects of change and the consultancy, training and coaching needs that enable people to improve their performance.

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