It is time to get Planning

It is that time of year when I get on my high horse and start pleading with every training manager I come into contact with to start their training plan for next year.  If organizations are only a couple of months away from budgeting, then training should be prepared with a strategic training plan to support their budget requests.

Many training managers will tell me that they don’t set the budget, that someone else does and they must live with it.  How foolish is this?  Why would you let someone develop a budget with some willy nilly number that may be too low or here is a thought, too high for the goals at hand?

Yet this happens all the time, doesn’t it?

My comeback is always multi-phased, as I believe everyone should be working off a training plan to become less reactive and more proactive.  Second, there is no way to ever justify asking for money without a plan, and shame on anyone that approves funding without a written plan.  Third, if training is to be considered a business partner they need to actually partner with the business needs, and not just stand back waiting for a signal that work needs to begin.

So although I will be brief on this today, I want to plant a few seeds and over the next few months I will water and fertilize and hopefully encourage a few more of you to write a plan this year.

Who Should Write the Proposal?

Are you the type of training leader that clearly defines a performance issue before they go shopping for a solution?  Are you the type of training leader that collects information from training providers and then writes the training proposal themselves?  Or are you the type of training leader that leads from behind, and defaults to the training vendor to position their solution by letting them write the proposal that you forward on to management for approval?

As more training leaders seem unable to write a simple training solutions proposal for their management to approve, more and more training providers are stepping into writing the proposal themselves so they don’t lose the sale.  The proposal is written to define the situation with a slant to fit their perfect solution.  However, most of the time the training provider is not privy to all of the inside information and who might need to approve the solution so the proposal lands up with many holes in it.

While I read in the newspaper the other day that most high school students are graduating without the ability to write, it is no wonder we have so many adults in the workplace that delegate this task rather than attempt the proposal themselves.  Yet every time that a training solution is proposed outside of the training department, it will be missing the mark.

While I advocate in The Training Physical to learn this competency and write your own proposals, at the very least training leaders should not just forward the vendor proposal for approval without first rewriting it and filling in all of the missing information.  Should the vendor forward their proposal to you in a format you are unable to edit, either ask them for a different format, or do the hard work of retyping it.

Another lesson I learned a long time ago when teaching a business writing workshop was to know your readers.  List all of the people within your organization that will read the proposal and make sure their wants and needs are both included and obviously easy to locate in the document.  It is your job to make sure the training solution and learning methods will achieve results, and not just because the vendor said it will. 

So who should write the proposal?  The answer is always the training leader responsible for the results of the solution.  What do you think?

Match Title with Job Description

If you are following the job boards at all there seems to be a slight up tick in the hiring of training personnel.  I would like to assume this means that companies are preparing to gear up for growth and realize that training is a major component of successful implementation of a growth strategy.  Yet there seems to be a conscious effort lately by most (not all) employers to connect a robust job description with a lower grade title.

If you are requiring 5 years of training facilitation, design and management experience, and oh, throw in organizational development competencies as a plus, you don’t call this person a Training Coordinator!  They are at a minimum a Training Officer or Training Manager.  There are reasons companies match this way, and yet in the end it does not serve their recruiting needs well.

Companies that pair incorrectly as the above posting did this week are saying we want the competencies but don’t want to pay for it.  We believe that there are so many qualified and yet unemployed people out there we can convince one of them to accept an administrator level pay and get a manager’s level work out of them.  Although this is tacky, it is also quite transparent and potential employees have been warned as to how they are going to be treated.

Two things come to mind when we pair incorrectly a title and job description like this one.  First, we are not attracting the talent that can do the job we need and the job description is advertising.  People skim and scan job searches and the title is often what promotes the person to click to read more.  If the title is less than my desired role I will over look it.  Second, even if we are able to hook a desperate talent that really needs work; they are very apt to leave us as soon as something better comes along.

I’ve mentioned in this blog before that sometimes the title is better than the job description.  The company was advertising for a Director of Training and the job description was that of a trainer only.  I went on one of these kinds of interviews and what they wanted was a trainer (job description).  What they needed was a Director of Training (title) and yet they were stuck on the original job description.  This mismatch attracts the talent they need, but the inaccurate job description pushes the talent away from applying or after the first interview.

Yesterday I ran across a job title of Director of Talent Management with a job description that was so spot on it was scary.  It was not only a true description of talent management versus training, OD and HR, but it was a very comprehensive description.  I was stymied by the lack of anything missing that I researched the company further to find out who is in charge of HR.  Well once I realized that this person was a solid as this job description it made perfect sense.

Maybe having a mismatch in the title and description is a conscious effort to find a bargain but my gut tells me that most of the time it is just a basic misunderstanding of what training personnel should be doing for the company.  Then occasionally I run across a solid match and I feel that not all hope is lost.

Super Quick Training

I read a job posting for a training manager role this morning that although I know they are serious in their need, I had to laugh out loud over the very thought of this expectation.  It said “that at anytime the training manager should be able to fill in for a trainer and deliver any program within a 20 minute notice.”

While it is a worthy endeavor to find a Super Training Manger, able to train any topic at the drop of a hat, it is a lame expectation that anybody could deliver their full curriculum offering with 20 minutes of prep time.  I take longer to prep a course delivery that I have taught many times, but I am obsessed with the quality of learning.

The job description went on to say that the need to always deliver every posted workshop required that the training manager could multi-task as a last-minute replacement for the assigned trainer.  That training is so important to the culture that nothing should stand in the way of delivering a planned workshop.  I guess that includes a quality learning event.

Somebody with half a brain has prioritized the event over the quality of learning.  Employees will lose time off the job attending any training event, so why not make sure that when they do that time is spent learning correctly?

Yet the person that signed off on this hair-brained idea in the training role is the one that let the company down.  Many times management that doesn’t fully understand the adult learning process will challenge the training world to do something that is counter productive, but the real challenge is to push back when the idea is not grounded or works against the learning process.

As a training manager you must be the advocate of the employee learner.  This job posting said “those that disagree with the requirements need not apply.”  I obliged by not wasting my time applying.  This training department is showing signs of illness, and probably is in need of a complete Training Physical to determine how ill they really are.