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Best Training Practices
Will Kenny
3927 York Ave N
Robbinsdale, MN 55422
612-978-3050

Will A Tweak Do?

fix small problems with small solutions

(reprinted from The Training Tipsheet)

In most companies, when people think of "training," they think of fairly significant events. Whether we're talking about workshops and seminars, extended coaching series, or on-line courses, the training in question takes some time and company resources to develop and deliver.

And, of course, one hopes for a good return on that investment. Usually the internal clients are looking to establish new behaviors, or to replace less effective behaviors, among the employees they supervise.

But given the investment required to create and deliver training on this scale, interventions of this magnitude are generally justified only when that return is obvious and significant. The organization identifies the bigger problems, and pulls out the big training guns to address them.

In some organizations, this Return On Investment thinking creates a hurdle for developing any kind of training. The investment is assumed to be significant, for any new project, so it can only be applied where the fixing the problem (or seizing the opportunity) produces substantial benefits.

Yet simple arithmetic suggests that if you reduce the investment, it will take a smaller return to justify that investment. In other words, solving small problems, or partially solving larger ones, may produce considerable accumulated benefits from relatively small training efforts.

Maybe a tweak will serve instead of a fix. Small returns add up. If you can reduce the time it takes an employee to perform a daily process by ten minutes, you make a full week of extra work time available every year.

Or consider a cost-savings program. Perhaps one of the departments you work with desperately wants to cut their operating costs by 10%, but your best plans to achieve that will be expensive to deliver, and will take the employees off the front lines for long periods of time to implement. What if you could achieve the easiest cost savings with fairly minimal training? What if a much smaller training investment would give you a 5% improvement in your client's operating costs? Wouldn't that be worth doing, especially when compared to doing nothing because the only solution you can see is too expensive?

Often your internal clients know what small tweaks in their employees' behavior would produce consistent, repeated benefits to the company. What they do not know is how to get employees to change their behavior, and that's where your expertise makes all the difference.

Perhaps a short one-time coaching intervention, one on one, would do the trick. Perhaps you create a mini-training session that a manager leads in a staff meeting periodically.

Whatever the specific solution, your experience in effective communication to produce behavior change can take a message that department management has been repeating, even shouting, to no effect and turn it into a small intervention that produces results.

Your training function will always be viewed through the lens of the highly visible larger interventions. But keeping an eye out for small steps you can take to advance small benefits, benefits that add up to significant gains, is a way to extend your budget and your impact for the good of your organization.

© 2013 Best Training Practices -- Will Kenny

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