Friday, July 29

Why Internal Training Departments can't keep Type-A personalities

I believe training should be one of the most important parts of an organization. Yet training is often (not always) one of the least important (if that is just perception, or reality as well, depends on the organization,). One thing I have tried to understand is why this discrepancy.

One observation I previously posted was that training promotions often lead to career ghettos.

But something that I would like to explore here is the reactiveness of training. Training almost always sweeps up after the parade.

  • There is a big crisis, it is studied, it is researched, task forces look at root causes, and THEN training is presented as an answer and implemented.
  • A new application is developed, piloted, tested, and THEN training is developed
  • Sales people pioneer this great new technique, it is identified, vetted, and THEN training is brought in to scale it up.

This constant lag drives Type-A's batty. Almost all leave the department. Some flee to vendors, but then they still have to deal with the Type-B's who are left in the training department.

It is hard to know how to circumvent this, or even if it should be circumvented. But in understanding the role and profession, it is hard to ignore it much longer.


jay said...

Clark, go back to Geoff Moore's thesis that corporations have (1) core activities and (2) context to support them. Core makes the money. The rest is a drag that you should outsource if you can.

If I'm going to work for a bank, my best odds of success are in being a banker, not in being a trainer of bankers. That's where the money is. Training (except at a training company) is context, not core.


Anonymous said...

I totally agree with the both of you , but you shouldn't leave it at this : The right policy should be to have some kind of rotation between people in the core positions and these in the context ones. Of course, this is possible only in big corporations and I've seen it happen ina very big bank, where I was the CLO and most of the managerial jobs were filled by people that came for 3-5 years from the banking positions and went back there.
In this way, you can actually have Type-A personalities in a training Department.

Clark Aldrich said...

Anyone who tracked Information Technology's rise from context to core (or even Wal-mart's use of logistics) doesn't accept that taxonomy as hard and fast. The question for me is how do you make Formal Learning the new IT?

Clark Aldrich said...

To go one step further, for some organizations, advertising is a context activity. For others, such as Coke and MacDonald's, it is core. Some consulting organizatings would count Formal Learning as a core activity.

Dave Lee said...

But, Clark, you seem to be equating formal learning with training/learning when many of us are arguing that formal learning isn't the answer. I argue that we need to release our hold on formal learning which isn't core and grab hold of informal learning interventions and strategic knowledge capture - which are crucial to organizational intelligence. By doing so WE become core.


Dave Lee said...

Meir, I totally agree with you. Job rotation and job shadowing are powerful tools. While not technically job rotation, my years in sales have been constant assets as I've held various management jobs. Knowing what it's like to be out there pitching gives me a perspective I'll never learn in a training session or a book/website. It's a viseral perspective that colors everything I do.

How do learning professionals get involved? My scaffolding job rotation assignments to assure the greatest possible learning experience from the assignment. (and, most likely, handling the logistics, too.)

Clark Aldrich said...

By formal learning programs, I mean the kinds of activities that people reading this blog will be orchestrating/facilitating in five years.

Anonymous said...

A few thoughts from a first-time contributor:

1) Outsourcing is not always done for 'hard' business reasons. I was once outsourced from a training organisation!

2) If the emphasis is reactive (i.e. identifying gaps/failures and then trying to patch them up) we run the risk of associating competence development with a 'failure' mindset.

3) I think I can assume that we would all prefer learning to be easy and natural. However, such learning (which is often unconscious and unplanned) tends not to be seen as learning at all, but merely 'work'. So there is a real challenge to raise awareness among our stakeholders without 'formalising' that which is inherently informal.

Anonymous said...

A little late but nonetheless:

Education (Training) at my company is viewed even by the CEO as a very important factor in success. My team is involved in educating our salespeople and sending them out into the field with the confidence that they have the knowledge to be able to sell. While we still can't claim to be "core" we're doing a great job at convincing high level people that we're important to the success of our salespeople.