Saturday, January 20, 2007


Corporate Training

I've been busy this past week developing a training program for Large Company X. I'm not sure why LC-X would pay me to develop this particular course, but I'm happy to take the $. The end result will, as usual, be exactly what they were looking for (actually better, of course). Still, considering these large mega-companies have large, professional training departments, I'm still a little confused about their willingness to contract it locally. Don't get me wrong, I'm pretty good at this, and I'm not complaining - I'm just a little surprised.

For too many years in one of my former lives, one of my responsibilities was employee training. As it happened, I was just in the right (wrong?) place at the right (wrong?) time, when suddenly "Corporate" decreed that employee training was now important. My boss complained about another "lightning bolt from Mount Olympus" and made me the designated fall guy to take it on (along with all my other responsibilities). With little effective guidance or support, I enlisted a few energetic and dedicated coworkers and we started building a training program from scratch. Our first priority was supervisor training - promotions were more or less haphazard, with no consideration for "people" skills. In time the government stepped in with rules and regulations that prescribed who should get what training, so we had to redirect things a bit. Also, we were fortunate to find a few good training deliverers to help out.

But for all that, I can't remember one single training session that I attended that I liked (whether or not I had a hand in preparing it). What is it about corporate training that makes it so abominable? I actually liked presenting the training more than I liked being trained. I really dreaded those week-long seminars - before, during and afterwards. I think the group "breakout sessions" were the worst... role playing, consensus building, then reporting back to the rest of the class... Gack! Or maybe it was the presenters that used slides (eventually that morphed into PowerPoint), and then READ EVERY SINGLE WORD OFF OF EVERY SLIDE, SLOWLY? As if we couldn't read them ourselves...

At least they usually had donuts.


[Thanks to Leah Rubin, for last Thursday's "Rubes".]

Icebreaker activities seem to be based on the assumption that we are idiots incapable of navigating our own relations in a training session. I like to keep to myself in the beginning and feel things out; that preference is rarely respected in a training. Oh the ickiness!
Ugh, corporate training is awful. I've been forced to attend two. The worst was going around the table at the end and having to state what you'd gained from the experience.
That, or going around the table at the beginning and having to tell what you hope to learn from the experience...

It seemed the first thing trainers wanted to do was to exercise their power over the class by forcing them do stupid abasing things. And if you didn't play their silly games, your supervisor would surely hear about it.
Thanks for the link and the comment on my blog! I hope that your cello training is going well!
Great post. As acorporate trainer I believe that proper training needs assessment and customization will reduce many of the problems you mentioned.

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