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Take the Creases Out

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As part of my research for one of my latest projects, I recently spent time in a dry cleaning branch. Dry cleaning is something that on the one-hand is very straightforward yet at the same time incredibly complex. Like a lot of technical processes, there is a core procedure that absolutely must be followed. At some stages however there is the opportunity to inject your own personal way of doing things.

Pressing is one of these areas. Now I am a wife and mother and I have spent a great many hours over the years ironing things, and I would say I can iron. So I was slightly taken aback when the branch manager asked me “what do you think is the point of pressing?”

“Obviously” I replied “it is to get the creases out”.

“Exactly” he said “so why do so many people spend their time ironing the bits that aren't creased?”

Naturally for this I had no answer at all. It was obvious when he said it. Why waste time ironing the bits of a garment that are already crease free?

It wasn't too great a leap for me to take this analogy into training generally, and management training in particular. Many managers fall into the role, and only a minority of fully prepared for the challenges ahead or have any training to help them deal with it. Most managers, particularly at first line level, work it out as they go along learning from colleagues, their own manager, and trial and error. Indeed many managers I train have been reasonably successful in the role for very many years and yet suddenly placed on their very first management training course.


I have realised over the years that with these managers we need to focus on getting the creases out (metaphorically speaking of course). I like to think that Power Hour bite-size training allows people to do just that – focus on the bits they need help with, and not go over stuff they can do. The truth of the matter is there are lots of ways of doing things right, and there are lots of ways of doing things wrong. If a manager is achieving the right outcomes whilst displaying acceptable behaviours, it seems silly to start from scratch and try and force them to do things in a set way.

Most businesses don’t want battery hens. They want free-range chickens.

Good management training allows people to retain their own style and methods (as long as they are within defined guidelines). We all know that every person, customer, branch, team and situation is different. We can’t advocate a single best way of doing something. That is why it’s so important to do a proper TNA and give people the training they need, rather than sheep-dipping everyone. If delegates are doing 80% of the job well, then leave that alone…let’s just focus on getting the creases out!

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