A Visit From Your CEO

Have you ever spoken with someone who is so far in over their head that they are drowning and still unaware of their circumstances?  What do you do after running across this kind of person?  Do you ignore them, try to help them, or turn them in to the authorities?

As a training person I am inclined to throw them a lifeline and do whatever I can to help this person succeed.  It is probably why I seem to do so much pro bono work because I want people in the training function to learn to do their job and then go do it.

However, I ran across someone who is unable for whatever reason to see they need help from anyone.  This is a training manager, which in my book makes it all the worse because folks like us are always supposed to be in a learning mode.

A past training manager of mine used to compare roles in training with actors and actresses and that both are constantly improving their craft.  Never should either profession consider themselves completed and that we all need to keep getting better.  If one comes to that road and they are in training and say they are done learning, it is time they move on.

So after weeks of trying to motivate this training manager, I gave up the direct route.  I contacted the CEO, and asked for a 15 minute phone conversation.  I sent him my book, The Training Physical ahead of time, and I asked him if he had ever visited the training department.

He had not, and asked me why I was calling him.  I said, if you will take 10 minutes out of your day and visit the training manager, it will be crystal clear.  I told him to ask to see the “Training Plan” for 2012, and to ask “how training impacted the business in 2011?”

I got an email from the CEO yesterday, with a brief sentence.  “Not impressed with the answers I got from my visit.”

I emailed him back and asked if he wanted to improve the health of his training department?  I’m thinking we could perform a training physical, and put some changes into place that could benefit everyone.

He replied that, “this is a tree that no longer wants to bear fruit, and those are the kinds of trees you can’t fix, they must be cut down.”

Wow!  He was spot on, and yet I was concerned that he might throw the entire training function out.  I called him, and to my surprise he had no such intention.  He said, “Oh no Jim, just because one tree is dead doesn’t mean you cut down the whole orchard.”

This training manager is going to either lose their job or be reassigned.  And for the health of the organization this is the right move.  Now they will have the opportunity to find a better fit to run training.

My question for you today is how would you handle a visit from your CEO?  Could you show you are healthy enough to remain or would you land up in the woodpile?



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