H112- Bamboo pan pipes bound with split cane string. Tanna Island, Vanuatu.

A trainer’s life is a precarious one – never more so than in the stagnant weeks of the school summer holidays.

I have had two training workshops ‘postponed’ (with the flimsiest of excuses) which were due to be delivered in the next few weeks. One due to ‘staffing problems’ – even though I know that those particular dates were expressly chosen because every last delegate was available – and the other one with no explanation at all, or at least, none which has filtered down to your humble servant.

“Two people are on annual leave Mabel and I’ve stubbed my toe on the photocopier, so let’s lock down the other 57 worker-bees, noses to the grindstone. Best not bother seeing that staff development workshop through. It’s only soft skills anyway: leadership, influence, risk and decision making. I mean who needs that in today’s climate eh?”

And it struck me that there is a more noticeable lack of commitment generally. I’m not sure whether it is because of the dreaded ‘B’ word, whisper it – Brexit; the constant flip-flops of government, or if these are simply an excuse for an apathetic 20-teens malaise that seem to have set in lately?

It’s the sheer insouciance that gets me. I received one cancellation email late last Friday afternoon, which ran along the lines of “Sozza to snatch a couple of grand from the mouths of your orphaned children Sonya – have a nice weekend! (obligatory smiley-faced icon)”. And what about the delegates, many of whom may have been looking forward to building their confidence as managers or boosting their commission by conducting successful sales visits?

“Fortunately, Mabel, it does mean that our precious training budget can be redirected to that ‘Goat-Hair Combing’ workshop – wonderful for mindfulness don’t you know – or Mongolian Pan-Pipes for Beginners’ – fabulous for creating a serene office environment”.

Don’t get me wrong folks; I appreciate the need for mental health happiness in the workplace as much as the next person; however I do think we run the risk of being hijacked by trendy ‘new-age’ practices lately, whilst the sensible stuff is suffering on the sidelines.

So three simple ‘Don’ts’ for today:

  • Don’t book training scatter-gun fashion, then cancel later. It devalues it in the eyes of your staff, who thought they were worth being invested in. It also creates a last-minute diary desert for the training deliverers, who booked it in in good faith, maybe even turning down or postponing other work to accommodate
  • Don’t assume that poor soft skills have no effect on your bottom line. A single disciplinary that could have been avoided may save tens of thousands in compensation and reputation
  • Don’t be swayed by the latest trend. Choose wisely – and commit to – training that will make a valuable difference to both your bottom line and staff motivation

I look forward to my diary remaining a little more stable in future. But as a fail-safe I am adding ‘Intermediate Pebble-Painting’ to the Stratus repertoire for 2020.

Training Success Tips

Stratus Associates