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Should training be compulsory?

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It's a tough one isn't it?

Of course, there are certain aspects of everyones job where training IS (and should be) compulsory. Anything that covers working safely or is critical to core processes is quite rightly considered non negotiable.

But what about other skills, like communication, managing people and personal effectiveness?

Over the years, as a society, we've become more choice driven. Overall this is a great thing. We are all adults and most of us are capable of making good choices for ourselves. Sometimes we don't. Maybe this is because we don't like some of the options, we don't see the value or it's simply not a priority. How many times have we seen the senior manager opt of out performance management training because they 'know how to do it'? But they don't know how to do it well, and this has ramifications across the organisation.

Maybe it's just because we are comfortable where we are. It's nice in our comfort zone isn't it?

Over the school holidays my kids were more than happy to stay at home all day playing Minecraft, watching Horrible Histories and jumping on the trampoline. It was nice and comfortable for them. Familiar. It took no effort. When I suggested doing something different they were often reluctant (unless it was expensive and involved the chance of ice-cream of course!).

Increasingly bored and frustrated, I took a more assertive approach. I took away their choice. "This afternoon we're going orienteering" I declared one day last week.

"But WHY???"

"It's boring"

"I don't want to go orienteering"

"Why can't we just stay here?"

But go we did, and by the time we were hunting for our third marker, Minecraft, TV and boredom were forgotten. They were racing around, smiling and laughing, fighting over who got to read the map to find the next marker, and when we had finished they were surprised that it was over so quickly. They didn't want to go home, so we extended the visit to include half an hour on the playground (also deemed 'boring' eariler in the day).

As with many things, it was the getting started that was hard. Once they HAD started, they created their own momentum.

orienteering_map

Isn't that often the way with training too? People find any and every excuse not to go unless their job literally depends on it. But when they do (reluctantly) attend, the vast majority of people find it useful and enjoyable.

So whilst the adult in me says that people should be free to choose whether to attend training and which training they want, another part of me knows that often people don't know what's good for them until they have the benefit of hindsight.

So how do we get the balance right? Answers on a postcard (or orienteering post) please!

 

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