Business Without Training

If you are looking to save some money next year, you may want to try out some of the expense reducing tips used by many companies this year.  My least favorite, although very popular, has been to conduct business without training.  Some have reduced training to only new hires, or regulatory concerns because they are forced into it, and others have cut out development programs for managers and leaders.  Many have decided that sales skills and customer service should come natural, so why train something we are born with?

While readers may be wondering if I am being sarcastic in my tone for this discussion, I have yet to reveal my entire motive.  You see in addition to saving money, you can also plan to lose money next year by cutting out training.  In fact, if your goal is to go out of business, force a sale of the company, or declare bankruptcy, then a faster strategy is to pull back on providing skills that make employees successful, and thus the company successful either.

Training Leaders like myself harp all year-long on the benefits of training, targeting skill development, and using learning as a competitive edge to win out over the competition.  We are working off the premise that companies want to make money, grow, and return for stockholders.  Yet, we are barking up the wrong tree if the company has goals that are reverse of that thinking.  Assuming a company desires success, is no longer a “no-brainer” and we learning professionals should probably ask the obvious question before we assume differently.

I am taking this approach when I first meet new executives that I think are striving for success.  “Is the company planning to grow this next year?”  “Has your division increased their goals from last year for next year?” I am finding that I get some rather puzzling looks, and even over the phone a definite pause.  Rather than explain my opening questions, I come back to them later when we discover an area that needs attention.  When there is push-back over solving the problem, I ask again if there is something other than success as a business driver.

There is a neighborhood bank that has decided to merge with another bank of equal size without the advantage of any training process.  Their plan is for everyone to learn on the job, and that they will be successful in retaining customers.  I strongly disagree, or rather, I would not take that bet and would have planned differently for success.

What are your thoughts?  Will they succeed without training?

Training The Training Manager

If you are one of the many lucky Training Managers that went from being a trainer to The Training Manager role, you may be feeling that it is time to learn a new set of skills.  I’ve been hearing from a lot of training managers that have been struggling with their role of managing a function and are looking for help.

Unless you developed your training skills in a large organization, chances are you were a super sharp employee that someone decided would make a great trainer.  Some folks are natural trainers, so teaching others how to do what they know how to do was an easy transition and they obtained success.  And then because you were the only one standing in the hall, you got nominated to become the manager.

Yet when it comes to designing a program outside of your subject matter expertise, you have found it difficult to put a training workshop together.  When someone asked you to figure out why their employees were unable to meet performance goals you didn’t know how to proceed.  When you were tasked with developing an annual training plan and budget, you felt like you were drowning.

In a larger organization, we have a lot of people in the training role and they learn from each other.  Managers are often grooming their successors, and a trainer becomes a learning professional over time.  While these are the best candidates for smaller organization to recruit from, it is often difficult to impossible to pull it off.  They simply don’t want to leave their company.

So smaller companies promote from within, or will hire external talent that oversold their abilities in the interview.  In the end, the company does not have a skilled training manager, even though they are paying for one.

The solution is to hire a training manager coach.  Someone that can mentor your training manager on specific projects, and/or jump in and complete other projects with your employee learning along the way.  In The Training Physical, I talk about the need for this kind of development for your training manager.  There are some workshops that train some of these skills, but they are far and few between, which makes them costly and involves a lot of travel for a generic class.  Using a coach trains skills within your work environment so they are learning and accomplishing internal tasks at the same time.

Another skill set might also be missing in your training “manager” if you have never provided this person with management development training.  Be sure that they are inserted into this development, or better yet, make them the trainer.  Nothing works faster at learning a skill than having to train others to perform it.

If you want to learn more about bringing a training manager coach into your work environment, email me at

Don’t Window Shop For Training

Anyone shopping right now without a clue what they want to buy or what someone needs can testify to how grueling the process can be in finding the right gift, not to mention how tired it makes you feel.  So many things can catch our attention, and without having prepared for the shopping experience, we are left to whatever catches our eye.

Window shopping is fine when your goal is to just check out what is available, and when you don’t have any goals to purchase anything.  It allows you to keep your mind open to possibilities and explore whatever the store has to show you.  But when you are looking to purchase a particular gift for a particular person, you need to have your list.  Sizes and colors matter when shopping for someone.  Age is important to know when shopping for toys for kids.  The details of the person and their needs are vital to finding a good match.

Why then is it such a popular activity to window shop for training?  Trainers, and Training Managers love to attend free webinars, order things online and surf the internet looking for types of training “just to know what is available.”  I say wait on learning about your options until you have a performance need to solve.  Then go out and find out what your options are for your particular issue.

Good training managers will have an understanding of the performance issue before they even consider training as the performance solution.  Once they determine that training can improve the performance, they conduct a training needs analysis to create their size and color chart.  How many need training?  Where are these people located?  What skills do we need to develop?  When do they need to be prepared to perform these skills?  What is the budget?

With a good shopping list in hand, the search takes on more urgency, and yet it is faster because you can weed through the sizes that won’t fit.  How many of use go to a particular store when looking for something we need?  How many of us given the amount of money in our wallet narrow down the stores we will visit to the ones we can afford?

The real bonus of shopping for training with a list is how the sales people will treat you.  You elevate yourself in most vendor’s eyes to that of a serious buyer.  They know how to present their training programs at every level of the sales cycle, and when they find a serious buyer they eliminate a lot of the games and get right down to business.  Not to mention, if you spell out what you need, and they don’t have it, you save a ton of time and can quickly move on to another vendor.

So while window shopping can be fun, when it comes to shopping for training, please become a focused and serious shopper!