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Training Partnerships at Work

Submitted by  on April 29th, 2014

Yellow highlighter highlighting word PartnershipI’ve been writing a lot about the importance of forming partnerships with the key stakeholders in your training program. I see many training programs fail because they were only an adjunct to the main play going on in the business. They were treated by managers and employees as being more like a side show instead of being part of the main event.

The danger starts when trainers see themselves as the solo act. What do I mean by this? Some trainers adopt the training role believing that training is about presenting in front of a group of people. I want to say that training is not fundamentally about “putting in a performance”, but about “performance in the job”. The former approach is “trainer-centric”, in which the trainer takes center stage to inform and perhaps entertain.

On the other hand, the latter approach is “trainee-centric”, in which the participants take center stage. Here, the role of the trainer is to facilitate learning through presenting, coaching, consoling, inspiring and collaborating with trainees. The goal is not to “put on a show”, but to help people do their job better or in a different way. The main reason I wrote my book, From Training to Enhanced Workplace Performance, is to help trainers change their mindset from being simply a presenter to being a performance coach.

I have seen the “trainer as entertainer” style of training from both novices and seasoned performers. Whether you are new to training, having just received your qualifications, or have many years of training under your belt, if you see yourself fundamentally as actor on stage, then I ask you to reexamine your mindset.

Key stakeholders in many organizations are wanting more impact on the ground from training programs. They are by and large satisfied with the programs conducted, but are questioning the benefits and whether the money invested could be better spent on other initiatives. The days of the solo act are fast receding. For training initiatives to be truly effective, managers, supervisors, program designers, sponsors and trainers will need to work in partnership towards a common goal.

Long gone are the days when these key players could work in isolation in their own organizational silos. Training employees is not like programming automata. It never was. Trainees are real people who have frustrations, prejudices, dreams and priorities – inside of the training room and out. And after the training, they have to go back to real workplaces. In many of these workplaces, trainees won’t have enough resources to do the job properly, they will have a “Gestapo” style supervisor or they will worry about making their next rent payment. In some workplaces, they will have every reason to put the training manuals aside and just get on with “business as usual”.

Trainers will need to work in concert with human resources managers, line supervisors, program sponsors and executives to ensure that the work environment to which the training participant returns is a fertile ground for “planting” their new skills. This is the challenge for this new “partnership”; to ensure that the training “seed” ripens to become a full fruit-bearing tree. Managers, trainers, employees and program sponsors all share this important responsibility for making sure that training participants learn effectively and use their new skills on the job to the benefit of themselves and their organization.

What are you doing to foster training partnerships in your organization? What challenges have you encountered? What progress have you made? Please share you stories below.

High Impact Training Guide

If you want to build strategic relationships with your key training stakeholders, then check out Leslie Allan’s high impact training guide, From Training to Enhanced Workplace Performance. Learn proven strategies and techniques for finding performance roadblocks, aligning training to real needs, developing training partnerships, engaging learners and maximizing learning transfer. Find out more about From Training to Enhanced Workplace Performance and download the free introductory chapter today.

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