Is training a thing of the past?

Recently I was discussing the challenges of ‘people management’ with a young director and I was interested to learn just how much more new managers are allowed (or forced) to ‘get on with for themselves’ compared to 30 years ago.  As well as the immediate reactions of “different times etc”. this discussion evolved to a point where it had two useful outputs.

  • Firstly to note that everything you do doesn’t need a prior training course for it to work to a fair degree – as was often assumed to be the case back then!
  • Secondly to note that some tricky problems can be (and always were) anticipated in a structured development programme on those issues and skills.

In particular the mentoring challenge on this occasion was around being promoted to lead a team of (ex)peers.  This, as many will recognise, is a classic one and there was and is much to be told, read and found on the subject and the likely pitfalls.
The conversation therefore helped us both as I was impressed with the enthusiasm of a the new Director who ‘hadn’t been given a map but was still getting there’ while he was pleased to hear that it ‘wasn’t just him’ having to deal with the issues and that some reference material and advice is available.

Reflecting on this I remembered that I considered myself a reasonably able communicator on TV and in person until about 10 years ago I found myself on the wrong end of the TV news cameras, a very hot front page story and an unsympathetic press at 9am one morning.
I feel I dealt with this fairly well at the time but I learned a big lesson from that experience and arranged to attend a high level presentation and TV interview skills course shortly after.  Next time round it was a far more equal match and much more enjoyable!

In an ideal world I would have done the high level course first but I honestly don’t think today’s middle management can build the business cases for possibly-preparatory training on many subjects these days – and that situation is probably not to their or the company’s benefit in the end.