It Is Time For Your Annual Physical

virus_vaccine_1920x1200Actually to be clear, it is time for your annual Training Physical.  Prior to building a 2014 training plan and prior to building a 2014 training budget is the best time to assess what is working well and should continue, and to document the missing components in your training function.

This timing does assume that you spend the 4th quarter of the calendar year in the planning and budgeting process.  If your fiscal year begins differently, then just schedule your Training Physical before your process begins.

A bank training manager asked me recently how much a Training Physical would cost, and I responded like I always do, that it depends on what all we are evaluating and to what degree.  Much like your human physical, your doctor might have a flat fee for the initial check up and blood work, but if they notice something during that check up that requires further tests the price changes.

I like to work off a flat fee based on what the client wants to evaluate, and I factor in the time needed to check those items.  The client, much like the human patient, will tell me what the issues are that concern them, their aches and pains which signal to me what I would recommend we evaluate.  The only time the price would change is if the client decides to add areas to the evaluation process after we have begun.

The evaluation takes less than a week, and in most cases I can return a findings report and review it with the client within another week.

With a findings report in hand, the training leadership has projects that can be prioritized into everything else training needs to focus on and can build a comprehensive training plan.  Budgets are created with clarity for where the money is needed, and the plan can be implemented without funding issues.

So if you have not already made your appointment, email me to set a date to discuss your issues.


Training Function – Know Your Purpose


“Flyer Stuffing and Distribution” is not a purpose of a training function, but it is currently listed as a prime responsibility for a current job opening for a National Training Manager.  The advertisement for this new role in a growing company caught my eye because of the other oddly attached responsibilities that had been blended into this job description.  While many of the duties did tie into a training role, too many did not and will cause this function headaches in the future.

In addition to having the talents of an instructional designer, facilitator and previous management experience, “organizing catalog content and placement” ranked high on their required skills list.  But my favorite was “Drive training revenue through (are you ready for this) filling classroom seats!”

So aside from listing activities that are unrelated to the competencies of a training professional, this organization will measure training value by measuring butts in seats.  While most training professionals are measuring return on investment through changed behaviors in participants and being able to perform assigned duties correctly, this group has a much different approach.

The new National Training Manager that gets this job will either land up being a novice that goes along with the insanity, or spend countless hours trying to change the perception and value of the training function.  Although it will be an uphill battle, I hope for this company’s sake they hire the latter of these two options.  They are so off course right now that it is scary, and yet it probably is not their fault.

I believe that training and the role it plays within an organization is the result of management’s combined experiences.  If training has been seen as a strategic partner, then those managers will advocate for that role.  If training has been mostly seen as the hosts of meetings and the supreme talent for arranging the donuts, then they will be supporting those job tasks.

If you are managing a training function, and do not already have a written mission statement, take the time to write one up.  Spend time with management and check in to see if they all agree to the role and purpose of training.  Make sure you are living up to their expectations if they are functions of training, and work to educate those with misconceptions.

If you need outside help, just let me know!

One Person Training Department

In many organization the training department is a one person shop with the same responsibilities as training functions with a lot of staff.  The workloads are obviously different, but the areas of competency in a one person training department are more along the lines of a “jack of all trades” with maybe a master in a single area.  These unsung heroes are burning out trying to meet everyone’s expectations of training.

I work a lot with the banking and finance industry, and small to mid-size companies if they have a training function at all, usually place these responsibilities on a single person.  They are the trainer, instructional designer, administrator, technology expert, vendor relations and management’s contact for training requests.  They love what they are doing and want to do more.

These one person training departments are often staffed with some of the best people to work in the learning and performance world because they care about the learning needs of their fellow employees.  They often have a wish list a mile long of things they want to do that would improve employee performance, but they lack the ability to fit in another thing in their day.  They also lack staff and money to hire external talent for short-term projects.

Because training is often seen as an expense, putting more money into this function is not popular.  Neither is a desire to grow the function at the same rate as the organizational needs grow.  It is only when the workload becomes overwhelming does a little help come along, or when senior management supports the concept of the value training could bring to them meeting their business objectives.

I’ve been working with a small bank that has a great training manager, but could only afford bandages to keep her department alive.  Then the CEO retired, and the board appointed the current CFO as the new CEO.  Because expenses had always been this guys greatest focus, the training department thought their days were numbered.  Yet this new CEO saw training as an invaluable service partner, and immediately directed this training manager to hire two new staff members to meet current needs.  She went from a department of one to three overnight!

With both the pressure off this one person training department, and the full support of the CEO, this great training manager delivered a newly revised 2013 training plan given their new resources.

For those of you that are one person training departments, what would you do if the CEO discovered that training was under staffed and directed you to hire more people?  How would you demonstrate a return on this new investment?  I bet you know the areas that need shoring up, and if you don’t, then it is time for a Training Physical!