Yesterday I received my very first issue of Training Magazine in the mail. After over 16 years as a training professional, I’m really not sure why I never read Training before – but I’m glad I started. Right off the bat I was quite pleased with what I was reading. Like many trade magazines, the edition opens with a letter from the editor. Lorri Freifeld, the editor in chief of Training, does just that. Her editorial is titled ‘Ask and You Shall Receive’, and includes an example from training professional Michael Marr, who mentions that training folks have a tendency to agree to developing and delivering training without out determining the true need. Lorri expands on this by illustrating the simple process of going to a coffee shop. They don’t just hand you a cup of coffee when you go in (well they do maybe if you are a regular there), instead they ask you what you would like. As trainers we must always keep our finger on the pulse of the needs of the customers.
I’ve blogged previously about the necessity of conducting training needs assessments and how critical they are to learner outcomes. Yes, sometimes the need seems very apparent, and you may be right, but peel back the layers of this anyway just to make sure. Not only does this give you the opportunity to verify the purported need, but it will also give you insight into the driving forces behind that need – which may lend itself well as fodder for training content. You may be surprised to find that the issue is not training related at all, but rather a fault in the process or equipment. Remember, training is the greatest example of the ‘garbage in – garbage out’ theory. If you don’t invest your time, energy, and resources into making a quality product that meets needs, then you are simply wasting the time, energy, and resources – and in this economy, more than ever, we can’t afford to waste those things.