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Diary: Talking targets


diaryOur new diarist, training manager Josie Roberts, is setting herself some ambitious targets to prove her value in the year ahead. Just one problem, how will she ever achieve them?

I began my month with a presentation to my manager of all the wonderful things that I’m going to achieve in 2009. She seemed happy. I had put a lot of thought in to what it needed to cover so that was a relief.

For 2009 isn’t going to be quite like any year before. I think that even those of us in companies without large-scale redundancies are going to have to be focussed as never before and really show that we offer value for money. It’s not going to be enough to just deliver the same old courses and do the same old things.

"My manager is happy and I’m mildly panic stuck as to what I have agreed to do, but determined to at least have a go."
Josie Roberts

I’ve already started doing some things to highlight the value of the in house training team. For example, when I submit Activity Summaries I add what it would have cost to use an external training company for the same amount of training so that our value is clear.

So along with the usual activities I threw in a few headline grabbing ideas. “Are you sure you can do all this?” my manager asked. “Oh yes,” I said. I didn’t think that “I have no idea” was the answer she was looking for. I know that some people see trainers as being rather removed from the day-to-day activities. For “removed” I see “potentially expendable” so I want to be absolutely certain I do everything I can to show how I am supporting the business through these difficult times.

So, a good meeting. My manager is happy and I’m mildly panic stuck as to what I have agreed to do, but determined to at least have a go.

One ongoing issue is getting available space and people to train. There’s been a recruitment freeze for several months now so teams are getting very stretched leading to small groups to train and lots of last minute cancellations. If we can’t train what do we do? My mind casts back to some of the more unusual results that sprang from a brainstorm on the subject – wandering through the building wearing t-shirts emblazoned with training material, running into offices and yelling out useful things for people to know, getting things printed on sandwich bags in the canteen... These seemed hilarious at the time but who knows how hard it’s going to be to actually train people?

A team member asks me to check through her assignment for her Certificate in Training Practice. It’s an audit of her abilities and development needs and a plan to address them all. “You do know you won’t be doing much of this?” I say. I can’t remember having seen such an ambitious plan. If she follows it she will be coaching the exec. by Christmas and believe me, she is a long way from that. Slight guilt trip – should I have been more encouraging, or is it better to be realistic?

My response doesn’t seem to bother her. Apparently as long as the format and layout etc are right, the veracity of the contents is very much secondary. I try and remember if it was like that when I took mine. As long as she passes, I suppose that is what counts.

And talking of people presenting over-ambitious plans. I need to be getting on with mine.

Josie Roberts is a pen name for a training manager in the private sector.


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