May 24, 2019•580 words
Making Practice Harder Than The Game
As the band travels onward towards Baerlon, Lan puts the three young lads through the paces of the weapons they carry.
At their first stop, before the sun sank, Lan began teaching the boys what to do with the weapons they carried. He started with the bow. ... He showed Perrin a bit of how to use that great-bladed axe; raising an axe to someone, or something, that had a weapon was not at all like chppping wood or flailing around in pretend. Setting the big apprentice blacksmith to a series of exercises, block, parry, and strike, he did the same for Rand and his sword. ... Rand sighed and held the sword upright before in him both hands. Moiraine watched without expression, but the next evening she told Lan to continue the lessons.
The Eye of the World, p. 148-149
That last bit from Moiraine's viewpoint is just great. Training and developing others is often overlooked in the moment or the day-to-day grind. Training budgets are usually the first to get cut when scrounging for savings, highly reputed in person or webinar courses are cancelled in favor of quicker, cheaper online "click-through-to-a-certificate" courses and proudly touted as an employee training and development program. What's worse is that none of this is really done maliciously; it's done to fend off the wolves closest to the fence, but it ignores the long term ramifications of a stagnant workforce.
Part of the challenge I've seen is that it's very easy to visualize a solid training program; it's another effort entirely to develop it. My company had an audit last week and we got absolutely crushed on our employee training and development program (or mostly lack of one). It's probably one of any CEO's 'Top 3' for any company around the world. It takes a significant investment of both time and money to ensure training is aligned with the mission and facilitates personal and professional development. Sending folks to a seminar isn't enough; as leaders, we must create the environment that requires them to use the skills they've just acquired. This means having processes that have built-in flexibility to adapt to differing skill levels; it's highly unlikely that a company would ever shut itself down completely to train the whole staff and then stay offline to implement and optimize their operations. (Although it would likely be much cheaper in the long run, and often seems like the simplest solution.)
It takes full leadership engagement at all levels to prioritize training. The tendency to "push training off till a more convenient time" is sinister. It's so easy to do, and before you know it; your well organized training plan is tossed in a back room gathering dust. This may mean the boss directing people to attend; and then spot-checking to ensure compliance. We just did that at my company: the boss signed her direct reports up and then directed them to attend. The kicker: it was a mandatory training requirement anyway! And she still had to force people to attend. Getting the culture to place the requisite emphasis on training and development is a tough challenge; the results won't happen overnight. But when it finally clicks, it's a game changer.