Implementing a Corporate Training Program to Take Root

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This past December a large storm hit my home town. The city experienced hurricane force winds, downed power lines, blown over semitrailers, and extensive property damage. And in my parents backyard a 35 year old pine tree came toppling down. Throughout the Spring I’ve helped on several Saturdays to clean up the remains of the tree and fill that area with sod and flowerbeds. As I’ve participated in these efforts, it has made me think about how these vast changes in a backyard landscape are similar to the changes and challenges companies may experience when getting rid of an existing corporate training program or process and implementing a new one.

For 35 years the tree was an important part of the landscape, it influenced what would and wouldn’t take place in the backyard. When I was young I quickly learned not to kick or throw balls in the direction of the tree, because if anything went under the tree or into its branches it would be tricky to get it back; on the other hand I also enjoyed the large amount of shade the tree provided throughout the day. Similarly, when a corporation has had an existing corporate training program for an extended period of time individuals may get used to working around what they perceive to be the “shortcomings” of the training, while still making use of any positive aspects of the training (i.e. specific tools, job-aids, etc.)

Once the majority of the fallen tree was removed from the backyard, we were left with a giant empty space. Even though this empty space was surrounded by nice grassy areas and flower beds it remained an empty space. Because the soil was filled with pine needles, the surround grass and flowers couldn’t begin spreading into the large vacant area, and even if they could spread it would have taken way too long to fill the entire area. Similarly, when corporations remove a training program or process they need to be proactive in filling that void. Just because other good processes or trainings are available doesn’t always mean they will fill the void. Good behavior and practices in one area of business don’t automatically transfer to other areas.

Lastly, as the new sod and flowerbeds have taken root, they have required a lot more water and care than any other part of the yard. If we would have treated the new sod like the existing grass it would have slowly dried out and died. Likewise, when a new process or corporate training program is implemented I believe it takes additional care and effort to ensure the program is not only launched successfully but optimized.

So what has your experience been like when implementing new corporate trainings programs or processes? What “water” and “fertilizer” did you use to help your training take root? And does my backyard analogy make sense… or have I just been spending too much time in the sun laying sod?

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