Today’s anonymous ‘inside-the-department’ guest blogger address an all-too-common problem when co-workers want to reduce a training intervention without considering the loss of impact.
Today, part 1 sets up the issue. Next week, part 2 gives some concrete guidance on helping avoid this unfortunate behavior.
Picture this: ‘Sharon’, a sales leader in your organization, has told you ‘the reps can’t sell clinically. Can you put together some training on this?’ (sound familiar?) Sure you can! You reach out to key stakeholders, conduct a needs assessment and confirm that the representatives do, in fact, need some help in this area. You then work with your learning team to construct a proposal consisting of pre-work and an assessment, a live 1/2 day workshop, concluding with a certification by the managers. You are proud of this proposal because it is thorough and meets the objective to improve the reps’ knowledge and skill in this area.
You are excited to share the proposal with Sharon. After presenting the plan, Sharon is excited too. She says, ‘This is great! Cut it down to a 90 minute workshop and we’ll roll it out at the next sales meeting.’ You cringe when you hear this last part – and you have heard this before, right?
You know that it is not the right thing to do, but in the moment you can’t express all the reasons why. If you could find the words to explain, how do you do it without damaging the relationship with Sharon, or losing credibility as a learning leader? I’ve witnessed both inexperienced trainers and seasoned learning professionals make the mistake of simply replying ‘sure, we can cut it down’, only to regret it later. I cringe when I think about the times when I have also uttered these words.
Why do we sometimes answer this way when we know we shouldn’t? For the inexperienced or new trainer, it is often a lack of understanding about the impact of this response. They don’t necessarily realize that ‘cutting it down’ also means reducing the chance of meeting the learning objectives, which is the reason why you are doing the training in the first place. For the seasoned learning professional, the motivation could be to keep Sharon happy and give her what she wants, because they are looking to secure a spot on Sharon’s team in the future (feel free to insert ‘Mike the marketer’ in place of ‘Sharon the sales leader’). It may simply be an ‘eager to please’ or conflict avoidance mentality that many of us have. After all, we are in the business of helping people to succeed in their roles, so it can be difficult to push back.
The solution to responding is being able to effectively articulate the impact. This means not only articulating the downside of doing it wrong, but communicating the upside of doing it right. Sharon came to you for a solution. Unless Sharon has spent time in a learning role longer than 2 years, it’s unlikely she realizes the impact of shortening the learning plan.
There are some best practices that can help you to articulate impact for success. First and foremost planning ahead is paramount. In this scenario, planning ahead means in addition to doing an appropriate needs analysis, you need to be able to articulate a clear picture of the outcome desired as well as how to get there. Next week we’ll look at some practical ways to successfully articulate impact.
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