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Using Training Jargon with Business Partners

Wendy once worked in an organization with an IT department that had its own culture, separate from the rest of the company. If your computer had a problem, you had to learn how to submit a work ticket in their non-integrated system, and describe your problem in correct computer terminology, or you faced a long, long wait to get your issue resolved. Layman’s terms were met with condescending snickers and an even longer delay.

User friendly? Not really. Effective? No. No one wants to learn the jargon of another industry, especially one that they think is there to support them.

Interestingly, nearly half of our quiz respondents felt that it is important to teach their business partners training terminology.

Skills gaps, competencies and pre- and post-test scores are pretty interesting for those of us in training and development. They give us valuable clues as to what the organization needs in terms of training, and if training is creating a measurable difference in the capabilities of the employees.

Realistically, though, if you start to use those terms with the head of accounting, that person probably will not find them quite as fascinating. Accountants probably are more interested in debits, credits and balance sheets because this is their area of expertise.

Make it easy for your business partners and speak in easy-to-understand terms and language free of training jargon. Instead of asking about skills gaps, ask how their team is performing and if there are any problems. Instead of discussing competencies for a certain position, ask them to describe the ideal employee and the traits they possess. Taking confusing terminology out of the conversation helps you to stay focused on the purpose, which is to diagnose what training, if any, is needed to solve performance problems and contribute to organizational results.

We establish more credibility with our business partners by listening to what they have to say than by telling them about training-related concepts. We didn't make this up; check out Stephen Covey's fifth habit of highly effective people.

Take a few moments to review your training request form, if you have one. First, we suggest removing the word training from the name, because hopefully you want to get at root causes of issues and consider a broad array of solutions, of which training is only one. Then scan your form to see if it contains any training terms that your typical professional might not understand, and replace them with common words.

Think about your last few conversations with business partners. Was the conversation open and easy, or might you be able to touch up your meeting outline for future appointments?

Putting some thought into this one small change in how you approach the business can really make a difference in terms of the receptivity and ultimate partnership success you experience.

What questions or advice do you have about building business partnership?

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    Additional resources:

    Previous tips in this series

    The Brunei Window Washer: Bringing Business Partnership to Life

    Training on Trial (book)

    Training on Trial (workshop)

    Kirkpatrick Business Partnership Certificate Program

    Kirkpatrick Four Levels® Evaluation Certification Program

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    Comments

    #
    Wednesday, June 26, 2013 1:33 PM
    I've always thought it interesting that those of us working in the training function are told that we need to learn to speak others' languages instead of the other way around. Or meeting somewhere in the middle. I'm not arguing the benefit of operating in that manner isn't of great value, I'm just thinking that if your "partner" in the accounting department truly saw the benefit in working with you they'd make just as much effort to learn the function-appropriate language.

    I do appreciate, as always, how you clearly relate alternatives such as how to alter your questions (i.e. "ask them to describe the ideal employee and the traits they possess"). Having specifics like that make the point of your message so much clearer and easier to understand.
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