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November 22, 2006

How Thankful?

On Halloween, I challenged readers to consider all the training program bugaboos that frightened them, and (I'm not saying you're a bunch of wimps or anything, but...) no one responded.

Now, I have a much more pleasant task that's fairly obvious given the gluttony-filled holiday upon us: Think about what's actually going right.

More than a mere exercise in touchy-feely self-affirmation, you can use your training list of thankfulness the next time you're trying to parlay corporate buy-in. Remember how, on occasion, you have to justify the existence of your programs to the penny-counters? Well, as you compile your list of achievements and training feel-good moments from the past year, think about how the positive experiences can be quantified for your next meeting with the person or people tallying your budget for next year (or, if it's too late, the year after).

I'm writing an article about assessment for our January issue right now, and I wonder  if you'd be surprised at some of the stuff I'm hearing. A consultant I spoke with today told me most companies don't bother to assess skills mastery following corporate education coursework. Usually all they do is ask the learner how much they think they learned. I remember myself back in school before I started doing my homework and actually preparing for exams, and I think I'd shift into a similar mode if I were enrolled in a class with no tests. I would learn all the pertinent catch-phrases, and just repeat them like stump speeches until no one questioned if I understood what any of it meant. I'd figure they have no way of proving I don't really know what's going on, so remembering the surface words and slick talk associated with the given skill set should definitely suffice.

Then, there are the companies that do test, but only immediately following the last mind-numbing-boring PowerPoint slide. Both sources I've spoken with so far point to the fallacy of that. Who cares if you get it 10 minutes after the electronic white board has been put away?  What about 10 months from now when you've got to use what you were taught with the company's bottom line threatening to fall out?

After your post-stuffing nap tomorrow or on Friday, when you're in a reflective mood, and the family is out at the movies or pretending to clean up the backyard, get going on that list of training thankfulness. You can pat yourself on the back and save your job at the same time.


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