Don’t Become a Training Dinosaur

January 14, 2015

Do you cling to the way things used to be, hesitant to carve out new paths even when you know that the environment is changing around you?

Read this New Year’s message from Jim Kirkpatrick to learn tips for moving forward and keeping yourself from becoming a training dinosaur.

I have a younger sister (Sue) and two younger brothers (Doug and Ted). Our families are pretty much scattered around the country. My parents, Don and Fern, had always been the cornerstone of holiday family gatherings in our beloved Wisconsin. We have decades of cherished memories, but to be honest, since mom and dad both passed away during 2014, we struggled with what to do to continue the traditions. Where do we meet? What do we do about presents and activities? Do we even get together for the holidays?

Being the oldest, yet appearing much younger and more vibrant than any of my siblings, I took it upon myself to see what everyone wanted to do. After some December scrambling, we found a way to bring it all together. While good times were had by all, I was hit hard by the fact that things just don’t stay the same. I thought our good times with the entire family would never end. In this case, we decided to roll with unfamiliar circumstances and begin to redefine what and who the Don Kirkpatrick family will be going forward.

It is much the same with the L&D community. Things have not stayed the same, yet many hang on to the hope that traditions will live on forever. Instead of moving forward, we hold fast that training and learning will ultimately prevail. Oh, there is some acknowledgement that we somehow have to make modifications to our approach to learning in order to achieve credibility with our business partners. Perhaps we will get there if we build more exciting formal training or more interesting learning games, or get everyone on board with social learning.

I am not opposed to any of those advancements, but, from a Kirkpatrick vantage point, they are not enough for business leaders to acknowledge us as true strategic business partners. What they want and need to see from us is employees performing their jobs to the full measure and the subsequent achievement of significant business results.

How do we get there? By building and leveraging working partnerships with line managers, non-learning support managers, initiative sponsors and business executives. The first steps are actually quite easy. Spend time with these people to show them that you are interested in and dedicated to contributing to their goals and issues. Listen to them. Ask them questions about their needs. This will help you earn the right to share learning and performance suggestions that will actually make a difference to their bottom line. Click here for an example of how this was done at the Maryland Transit Administration to reduce the occurrence of costly mistakes.

Then things get more complex. In short order, you will need to show them positive outcomes from targeted pilot programs that are forged through targeted learning and performance interventions leveraged by strong partnerships. This is the way to move forward successfully in the face of inevitable change.

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Additional Resources:

Kirkpatrick® Business Partnership Certificate Program

Bringing Business Partnership to Life: The Story of the Brunei Window Washer

Maximizing Results Through Business Partnership

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