Going the extra mile …

I was reading a news article a few minutes ago written by a guy who said he was an expert on training and development.

His theory was that training businesses that were doing best in these difficult times are the ones that are going the extra mile for their clients. He went on to explain what he thought going the extra mile actually meant.

It wasn’t just about turning up, delivering the training and leaving. It was all about the relationship and how the delegates were going to use what they had learned on the programme.

And I agree with him… to a point.

However, I think there are a couple of things that aren’t quite right about what he has written.

The first is simple to deal with. Yes, relationship is all important in training, but why on earth is it only important during a down turn? For me, it’s vital all the time and it’s difficult to see how a people development business can deliver an effective programme without really getting under the skin of its client.

The real tragedy for so many firms out there in Enterprise Britain is that getting under a business’ skin is not that difficult, if you know the key things to look for and you understand business enough to ask the right questions. Just like any part of a business, people development should be governed by a set of systems and processes that enable the trainer to do their job properly. Understanding a business – at least in enough depth to deliver an effective programme – is just one of those processes.

If a training business doesn’t do this, they are short changing their clients.

Why?

Because the training delivered won’t hit the mark… to put it in technical terms, the course won’t achieve the behavioural change necessary.

Of course, the people developers to whom a one-off job has been outsourced cannot understand absolutely everything, but they have to be able to talk in the language of the business and understand what’s to be achieved from a company point of view… an ability to read P & Ls and Balance Sheets would be good!

And that leads me on to the second issue I have with trainers in general. Many of them are very good, but far too many are in the profession because they want to develop people for the sake of developing them, rather than understand the business ramifications of what they do and the potential effect they can have on success… or otherwise. They just aren’t business savvy enough.

So, for me, going the extra mile is not about helping delegates implement their learning, it’s about working with the business to understand what it wants its people to implement… and then helping them implement it.

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