40 Hours A Week

I’m sure you have read the joke sheets that break down a whole year, minus holidays, vacations, sick time and all the activities of others that leave you as the only one working and why you are so darn tired.  For the sake of a snicker or two (if I’m lucky) I thought I would try to break down a typical 40-hour work week for a hypothetical training manager.

When you think about 40-hours in a week to get work done, it sounds like a heck of a lot of time.  If you were a consultant charging even $100 an hour, that is $4000 for a week’s work.  Since our training manager is salary it is a lot less money, but still it is cash in exchange for 40-hours of work, correct?

Let’s assume our training manager begins work at 8:00am.  Well they arrive at 8:00am, put away the stuff they brought into work like a coat, briefcase, lunch in the refrigerator and maybe they have turned on the computer.  While the computer is booting up, and email is loading, a break for a first cup of coffee seems in order.  By 9:00am they are reading email, forwarding jokes to friends and catching up on the news at their favorite online news source.  After reading the email that has been sent this morning from others, and planning out their day, it is around 10:00am.

So from 8:00am to 10:00am each day the stage is being set.  That is 2 hours a day, and now we are down to 30 work hours left in the week.

After email, a restroom break and a stroll around the office to talk with staff (no doubt valuable coaching time) the first meeting of the day begins at 10:30 with a department head.  The meeting should have been 30-minutes, but didn’t start on time and ran over so it is now 12:00 and time for lunch.  Normally a 1-hour event, you stop for a quick look at email, and by the time you leave and return it is now 1:30pm.  Wow, what a productive morning!  Yet, another 2.5 hours has slipped by (not counting the lunch hour), and assuming a similar schedule each day, we are now down to 17.5 work hours left in the week.

From 1:30pm until 2:00pm we find our training manager listening to voice messages, reading email but rushed for time to return a single phone call or reply to a single email.  In fact the time is so limited they are unable to fit in a single delete of a junk or spam email to clear out the inbox.  My, my, another 2.5 hours gone for the week, and only 15 work hours left.

If there was a training event going on, the afternoon would be a good time to visit a classroom and observe a trainer’s facilitation.  If the training manager was actively working a training plan, they could be reviewing progress and looking for ways to remove barriers so the staff could get their work done.  Yet there is no training plan, and the staff seems to be busy doing something so we stay disconnected and look for busy work.

These last 3 hours a day, or 15 hours out of the week could be productive, but instead they are consumed with internet surfing for training products that have not even been identified as performance solutions.  Often they attend online free webinars for product demonstrations and to keep current with trends.  Yet these events often lead to more emails and phone messages from pesky sales people who stupidly thought they wanted to know more about the product or service.  Silly people, this was just a convenient way to kill time in the afternoons.

By 4:30 each day it is time to run to the restroom again, sign off the computer and gather personal items for the trip home.  Oh my, they forgot to wash their coffee cup out.  They will now “have to stay late again to finish up work.”

Begin With The End In Mind

This past week we lost an icon in the Leadership World, Mr. Stephen Covey.  I personally took to his list of habits for successful people like a mouse to cheese.  My favorite was “Begin with the end in mind” because I use this as the basis for every training solution process.

Too many times as training managers, we are instructed as to what will be trained, how it will be trained and to whom will get the training.  A good training manager will stop for a second and ask the necessary questions to understand the performance issue before agreeing to any kind of solution.  I always encourage Stephen Covey’s “Begin with the end in mind” as a way to set the performance stage.

  • What do we need our people to be doing that they are not doing now?
  • What will be the results after we are done training?

When a training manager acts more like a waiter, that takes down the training order and runs to the proverbial kitchen and brings back a plate of whatever was ordered, they are not serving the client well.  Even a waiter will ask a few clarifying questions of their diners before leaving the table, and so should the training manager.

Stephen Covey was also fond of saying we should “Live, Love and Leave a Legacy” in our work and in our personal lives.  I like to believe that his level of passion for results that matter, and a focus on doing the right things are what has molded my beliefs in good training development.  My mission to help organizations create, correct and improve their learning environments is my personal way of leaving a legacy.

Training is all about conveying our personal knowledge and skills to someone else.  If you will remember back to the very first time you saw the light come on in someone’s head because you trained them, then you understand the very core purpose of being a trainer.

So my friends, Live, Love and Leave a Legacy, and always Begin with the End in Mind!

The Value of Training

It was with much despair that I read a discussion this past week in LinkedIn about whether there would be any consequences to an organization losing the Human Resources function.  The actual polling question was “the elimination of” this function, which in reality we know cannot be eliminated.

Yet the comments were by far leaning toward the yes column of eliminating this function.  These people have had such an awful experience in their organizations with the value of HR they are set and ready to get rid of the function all together.

Some thought they served little to no purpose, or it wasn’t obvious what they do for the company.  One person said, “what would the legal department do without HR to keep them busy?”

I responded that throwing the baby out with the bath water is not the best way to fix a dysfunctional department.  It was an endorsed comment by a few that felt empowered to join the other side of the conversation, but still not a whole heck of a lot of support for the folks in HR.

I decided to post my own poll, and phrase it toward the training function, and instead of using the word elimination, I asked if anyone would notice if the training department was no longer there.  We shall see what kind of response this gets.

Don’t you find it pitiful that any of the human resource functions in these companies are thought to be so worthless that elimination might be a good thing?  Don’t you wish that these human resource functions were working the way they should so their value was apparent to everyone?

In my own work with underperforming training functions, it boils down to not doing the work they should be doing and allowing others to set the agenda.  Training Managers that act more like a restaurant waiter taking orders without questioning the purpose or expected outcomes is what fuels the fires of discontent.

How do we change the impression, and increase the value of training or for that matter, any HR function?

100 Postings – Now What?

It is hard to believe that in the past couple of years I have posted a weekly blog to support the concepts of The Training Physical which was published in March 2010.  Today marks the 100th posting and a point where I am wondering now what do I talk about next?

While my weekly post has usually been about reinforcing the concepts in “Diagnosing” or “Treating” or “Curing” the training function, I have also described various departments, managers and companies and how their unhealthy training functions are impeding their growth.

While I have had so much more material to work with that focuses on what is not going on well, I have had the occasional moments where I have been thrilled to point out spot on functions that are focused on learning and returning on the investment being made in the training function.

While my consulting practice and my blog posts remain confidential as to the company identities, I was recently challenged by a colleague to be a little more direct by calling out the names of companies and individuals that are doing specific harm by the way they run training.

Although I am wondering what I should talk about going forward that is different from what I have already covered, I am not convinced that naming companies and individuals as the best way to fix what is not working in corporate training.  Turning this blog into a little black book of incompetencies may increase readership, but I am not certain that it would be worth the cost.

However, I am looking for ideas and your feedback on where you would like to see this blog go next.  Thanks for sticking with me these past 100 postings!