No more mandatory training

Please stop ordering wide groups of people to attend training classes.  You’re making it easier on you as an implementer when you insist on treating all the people the same, but you’re destroying a grand opportunity to learn a lot about the people of the group and to serve them better.  Wrapped up in that loss is the loss of better outcomes for your organization.

Try another way.

Consider using opportunities for training as ways to differentiate people by their talents (see this Gallup Management Journal article) or by their willingness to adopt and adapt to new knowledge (see Roger’s Innovation Adoption Curve below, from suewaters site).

Let’s say you want better writers in your organization and you choose to deploy a writing course for all employees.  Here’s how that plays out if you seize the opportunity to drive change instead of driving people.

First, you’d offer the first classes to your best writers, or those most interested in improving their writing and let them choose to get to attend.   You’ll discover your innovators (the people who were writing well already) and the early adopters (the ones willing to jump on board with only the slightest prompting).

Next, reach out to targeted people in the early majority by suggesting this course is one of several ways they could improve their writing.  See who takes you up on the offer, or who chooses one of the other options (e.g., a book list, peer mentoring).  All you care about is that they write better, not that they take a writing course.  Don’t confuse your means (the course) with your ends (better writers).

Finally, allow people to admit they are in the late majority or the laggards without shame.  Perhaps their strengths aren’t in writing and getting them to be better at it isn’t worth the time and energy you and they would have to put into it for the modest to non-existent gains you would achieve.  Find them a place to play to their strengths where writing is less important to organizational success.  Consider their lack of interest in the training a cost savings over what you would have spent on their unsuccessful mandatory training.

I will consider all my hours of writing on this blog doubly worth the effort if just one person is saved from a training class that they manifestly don’t want to attend that works on their weakness that if they had any free will left in their job they would never, ever choose to do again.  We can’t afford to waste money on training people to be something they don’t want to be.  Let’s work on improving what they are good at and using all of that to make our organizations the best they possibly can be.

Why not try?  Who’s with me?

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