Training--whom do we send?

Author:Clark, Richard
Position:Management strategies

"Being a leader is like being a lady. If you have to tell people you are, you're not."--Margaret Thatcher

I recently read a book by an author whose pen I am not worthy to borrow --John Maxwell. In this book about the irrefutable laws of leadership, Maxwell explains The Law of E.F. Hutton. You may remember the Hutton commercials: When E.F. Hutton talks--people listen.

In the book a priceless leadership story is told. During the final seconds of a very close Boston Celtics basketball game, Coach K.C. Jones called a timeout. He gathered his players and diagrammed a play, only to have the great Larry Bird say, "Get me the ball and get everyone out of my way."

Coach Jones responded, "Larry, I'm the coach and I'll call the plays!" Then he turned to his other players and said, "Get the ball to Larry and get out of his way."

It goes to show that when the real leader speaks, people listen.

During my consulting experiences, I have visited many a facility that has had the opportunity, often along with the purchase of measurement equipment, to send employees to on-site or offsite training. There are about as many philosophies of how to choose the candidates for training as there are training opportunities. Often times, the decision is made based on pure logistics. "Well, this person will most likely use the equipment most, so he (or she) should go." Other times, the choice is based on tenure. "He's been here longer than anyone, so we should send him."

I could go on and on with rationales that never address what really needs to be determined: "Who will be our real leader when the time comes to implement the equipment?"

What few understand--or, if they understand, are neglectful to admit--is that with some of today's equipment, the training participants sometimes don't return to the facility "trained." A more accurate description would be "dangerous." Any good trainer will tell you it's his or her duty to cram as much information into the attendee's brain as possible during the time frame of the training. Back at the job, that employee's experience, along with...

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