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Dear diary: The adventures of a training director


DiaryOur training director has received news that a competing firm is in trouble, and also contemplates the difference between what training clients need and what they say they want. It's all in a hectic days' work for our trainer.

I had a slow week last week (believe that, you'll believe anything) then had a phone call late Saturday night from one of my trainers (who is in training to become a British Champion) to say that he had seriously damaged his leg and would be unable to deliver on Monday – so Sunday (my day of rest) was spent fruitlessly finding a replacement.

After my comments in my last entry about enjoying getting back to the floor, I was treated to it once again, and yes, I did enjoy it! However, little did I know that it was the pattern of the week, with two more trainers falling foul to a tummy upset and a migraine at short notice – I am so lucky that I have a fantastic team around me to ensure that we could meet our obligations.

I heard a sad bit of news today: one of our competitors is really struggling, some might say that's good but it is a stark reminder of the state of the economy – they have reduced their workforce to just the original start-up group – a reminder of how we need to keep our focus and not fall into complacency. It's also interesting to think back to a time when our strategy was being seriously challenged by the outside world and we stuck to it, despite everything. It seems there is a theme developing in this diary entry.

I have just read an interesting article by Graham O'Connell regarding learning outcomes and the effectiveness of training within the workplace and I have to say I totally agree with what he and the subsequent contributors have said. The link is: and is well worth the read.

I would add some thoughts to the comments made, and that is, that often the client (especially in smaller businesses) does not necessarily know what they need - they might know what they want, but these are two different things - and is not always interested in any form of training needs analysis: 'we just want a training programme to motivate our managers'!

The challenge is not unlike that of a customer service assistant with a customer who asks their opinion when wearing a totally unsuitable shirt. So it is a fine, yet diplomatic, balance that needs to be taken – perhaps the customer is not always right. The question is, are we honest or do we play to the sale? I'm pleased to say that we stick with honesty. Otherwise when that customer walks out the shop wearing that awful shirt, and people say 'where did you get that awful shirt?' and our name is mentioned, this would not be good for our prospects.

Yesterday I delivered an hour long presentation to a group of 100 SMEs. The topic I was given was totally different to the introduction I received at the beginning. What fun trying to meld two entirely different topics into a slot 'on the hoof'. Still, it worked – lots of 'well done' and 'inspirational' feedback. I do find it slightly amusing when I have spent an inordinate amount of time planning and stressing (yes, occasionally I do stress) over a presentation only to have to 'fly by the seat of my pants' and deliver a fantastic result – perhaps there is something there about trusting in your own skills?

I need to do some more work on our associate selection process – I had two people in to deliver a short training session and wow!! One read the brief and then decided to deliver their own thing within the context of the title. The other - though technically brilliant - had all the enthusiasm and charisma of a sea cucumber. Yet they both interviewed exceedingly well.

Still onwards and upwards – guess you have to kiss a lot of frogs to find a prince...

To read last month's diary entry click here


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