Do You Offer More Than Training?

July 2, 2014

Wendy was once approached by a sales manager who seemed to know exactly what kind of training her salespeople needed. This is how the conversation began:

Sales manager: “Wendy, we would like to have you do some prospecting training at our upcoming sales meeting.”

Wendy: “Sure. What’s the problem?”

Sales manager: “Our salespeople aren’t bringing on enough new customers. In fact, we are losing customers faster than we are finding new ones. The sales team must not know how to prospect. Can you share some ideas with them?”

Unfortunately, these types of conversations, in which business leaders approach training professionals with a prescribed training solution, are all too common in business and traditionally serve as the foundation upon which training professionals begin to develop new programs.

Tradition also supports conducting a training needs analysis or learning needs analysis (TNA or LNA) and selecting the most appropriate training or learning intervention from the results.

However, not all problems can be solved with training. If Wendy had taken the sales manager’s request at face value and simply developed prospecting training, it would have been a tremendous waste of time and resources. Read the full article Creating ROE: The End Is the Beginning to find out what happened instead.

One way to disrupt this worn-out tradition and to have a more meaningful conversation is by conducting a performance needs analysis (PNA) or a business needs analysis (BNA). This allows you to go beyond a predetermined training or learning solution and determine what is truly needed to increase on-the-job performance. Once you have this information, it is important that you tell stakeholders the truth about what the analysis has revealed about the necessities for success.

If you don’t already have experience, you may need to broaden your expertise to include improving processes, aligning incentives, creating a system of performance accountability, coaching, mentoring, informal recognition or reducing negative factors, such as bullying.

You may disrupt some old school learning and development (L&D) colleagues. Be prepared to hear, “That isn’t our job,” “We can’t control those things” or “That’s organizational development’s (OD’s) job.”

You may also run into some old school, territorial business leaders who will say, “Stay where you belong.” When Wendy was a new training manager, a well-established vice president sagely advised her to “know whose turf is whose, and don’t tread on anyone else’s.” Fortunately, Wendy did not heed that advice, and instead moved from being simply a training manager to being a trusted resource for numerous business units. So if you’re having trouble getting invited to the executive table, don’t let that stop you. Disruptive L&D professionals will set their own table

This disruptive approach has numerous benefits:

  • You will ultimately benefit your organization’s bottom line by recommending and helping to implement a multiple-component learning and performance package that will actually work to improve on-the-job performance.
  • You will become “one of them” (i.e., business people) instead of just one of the training people, so when it’s time to make cuts, they will view you as a valuable team member who they cannot live without.
  • Your versatility will make you a more valuable employee, and less vulnerable to downsizing.

Join the Discussion

How have you responded when approached by the business with a prescribed training request? Here are some ways to join the conversation:

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Additional Resources

The previous quick tips in this series

Kirkpatrick® Business Partnership Certificate Program

Bringing Business Partnership to Life

Creating ROE: The End Is the Beginning

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