Every time I’m on some kind of management training I have this vague feeling of disconnection. I mean I do assume a trainer is a competent person who saw way more different work environments than I ever would. They also are trained trainers meaning they know all the tricks how work with a group, what are effective learning techniques, how to make training entertaining etc. That’s what I expect after all.
And yet, I can’t help thinking their knowledge is somehow shallow.
To take the first example – for me it’s now time of performance appraisals. I spend long hours (days actually) talking with, and about, managers from my team. One of parts of such appraisals should be goal setting. Now, ask any of those trainers teaching you how to run a good performance appraisal and they would tell you that goals should be SMART.
Great. The problem is pretty few of goals I set are really SMART. Does mean I’m a crappy manager?
Well, many of those goals are hardly measurable. Let me give you an example. I, as a senior manager, care much about building trust relationships with managers in my team because I strongly believe it is a crucial factor of success for the whole organization. How should I, or my boss, set a SMART goal for me in this area? “Gain trust of n managers by the end of the year.” As if it was kind of badge or something. Darn trust isn’t measurable! And even if it was setting such goal would be just dumb. Is getting trust of more people better than getting trust of right people? And how do you define “right people,” huh?
This is exactly the problem of many trainers. They have their recipes. They know how to sell them. The question is: do they care to come down to learn a specific situation, understand a real problem and adjust their tool to a context?
Most likely they don’t.
Thus my vague feeling of disconnection and difficulties whenever I try to apply trainers’ recipes in real-life situations. Well, I don’t really do that but I like to imagine I do and I point every single hole I see in them.
It is a problem of reality. It is so painfully specific. It’s never general. It can’t be described with a set of rules which are always true. Yet I’m being told over and over again there are such rules. Rules, which just work. I would even believe in that but, unfortunately, every time I try to apply them they seem so irrelevant.
What is my lesson today? Understand a context. Many rules may sound reasonable during training but unless you apply the context you can’t judge their real value. And few people are willing to sell you a difficult truth: it’s never about recipes; it’s always about people who use them.Advertisement: Atlantic Global – provider of Project Management software.