Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Training Challenges: Helping Others Help Themselves


One of the most common problems training organizations face is the hot dog stand sort of view that their clients have of them. Clients get used to training as the fix to most or all of their problems, and with this mindset they often come to the internal training organization with a to-go order that they look to be fulfilled by training resources. Clients expect training products - typically ILT and/or WBT modules in my experience - to solve whatever performance issues they face.

As such it is necessary for a training organization to find ways to help their clients analyze what their true needs are. This is certainly not a new thing; training departments everywhere go through this on a daily basis right now. The question we in the training and performance improvement space need to ask ourselves is, in the rapidly evolving Web 2.0/Elearning 2.0 world, what are our best and most easily implemented options for providing clients the tools they need to help themselves?

Gaining Perspective

As with any human endeavor, it's often best to check our perspective at the door as the first order of business. After all, our perspective colors all things, and a client is more likely than not going to come from a place that is not unrealistic in its own right, but may not be truly aligned with what the group's actual need is. The client must be prompted to consider their position first before acting. Is training really needed? Will a job aid or mentoring suffice? What about the gap indicates training is the best solution? Does a member of the client's team possess the ability to help solve the problem?

Applying Web/Elearning 2.0

With all of the new possibilities provided by the recent evolution of social networking tools and the web, how do we as training/HPI professionals best capture the moment at which delegation occurs? Using my most recent experience as an example, the training organization that I was a part of had a small collection of resources for training professionals to use in meetings with stakeholders to determine the true needs of the client from a training perspective. These tools focused solely on training however, and the process was very manual.

Hindsight being 20/20, I have some designs I would choose to implement that would alleviate some of the burden of this step. For example, what about using an internal forum/blog that clients can access to ask questions and receive feedback from the training group(s) about whether training is the right option for them? In another case, apps like Adobe Captivate or Microsoft PowerPoint could be used to design and develop branching questionnaires that clients go through that help them identify the nature of their problem, and guide them to the best possible solution selections (and perhaps even provide them the templates they need to create the solution themselves at the end).

Web/Elearning 2.0 tools have come about only recently, and they are typically seen as the vehicles by which content is generated, organized, and packaged for delivery. Perhaps it is time to consider how to leverage these implements before training design even begins. How could your organization benefit from applying these applications as such? Does your organization already do this?

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