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Trainer’s Diary: Choices?


Byron Kalies
Byron Kalies hankers after the simpler things in life including a three-option menu.

I was reading an article recently about the company ‘In-N-Out Burger’. The report identified the strength of the company as being its simplicity and lack of choice. The menu consists of a hamburger, a cheeseburger or a double-double (double cheeseburger), with chips and a drink. That’s it. The company didn’t do gluten free, diabetic, lactose intolerance, macrobiotic, vegan, or vegetarian. It seems to work because they stick to what they’re good at and don’t feel the need to diversify.

I started thinking about this as I was struggling with an exceptional customer care programme for an HR helpdesk. I admit to feeling a twinge of jealousy. Why can’t I just have a three option menu? The benefits would be immense; staring with less stress. There would be a chance to really get to grips with the subject, do all the background reading I never have time for. I’d have a chance to develop the course, research, adapt it and become an expert.

However, there does seem to be an expectation that trainers/consultants will carry out a wide range of activities. We are expected to deliver a range of products effectively and skilfully to an exceptionally high standard. However there’s not enough time in the world to keep up to date with equal opportunities and diversity legislation, new management thinking or stress theories.

So given a choice between specialising or not there seems no contest – specialise. There is, however, another way of looking at this. I’m not sure about you but whichever training event I run seems to involve a fair amount of overlap with other training events. There’s no way I could run a consultancy session on teambuilding for instance without using knowledge or skills from a range of areas.

The problem is I’m not sure which things will be relevant. It’ll depend on the group and the situation. It could be that the discussions will lead into group dynamics, or motivation, performance management or effective communications. So in those situations I’m delighted to have a wide range of knowledge.

So what’s the answer? Well one solution for me would be to have a sensible, long term career plan. Initially trainers would feel comfortable specialising. Concentrating on a few key areas and really getting to grips with them. Then there would be a period involving a broader approach, picking up a number of skills in a range of areas. They could then return to a specialist position. I guess this would be a wide ranging area, for example managing teams. This would, however, require a career plan that spanned more than a few months, but that’s a whole other story.


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