Train or die/fade


This year at ThinkRight, we have put a real effort into making sure that we invest in ourselves in terms of training. You might remember some blogs back we mentioned how our team is expected to study for 45 minutes a day as that is part of the ethos that we are growing as part of the learning culture in our organisation. We began going on training courses. We’ve even taken this a step further by starting an inspiring video links page on our website as an easy reference for videos that we’ve found that are useful onto our website and taking courses.

This year we’ve done the Train the Trainer course, which both Kiri and I attended; and recently the whole ThinkRight team attended a marketing course. Now, for those of you that know me in the marketing space, that might seem like a strange thing. However, unless you’re prepared to learn, you cannot effectively teach (and it’s always interesting to see how other people present!) A spinoff was to see what we can learn by experiencing their systems, but neither of these reasons was the primary one.

The main reason we went for this training was because sometimes you’re just too close to your own business to see the wood for the trees, and we were aiming to get someone else to ask us the challenging questions we like to ask other people.

With the time then set aside, we could sit and analyse and work on our business rather than just in our business, which we are rather inclined to do.

So what did we learn?

Well, like many of our own clients, we wrote down all the stuff we knew we should be doing and there was nothing really new in what we learnt. What it did help with was having the team sitting down together; and putting a more structured timeline and accountability around what needed to be done, by when, and with what results we expected to see from each action.

Do you define success when you write action points?

When was the last time you sat down with your team to work out what needs to be done by when and what does the result look like? It is well worth doing.

I like challenging my thinking and examining what and how I do things – always looking for the tweak to improve. I’m reading an excellent book at the moment called “Scrum”. It has challenged all I learnt in my management training. Scrum (sometimes called “Agile”) puts forward something different to a Gantt chart when coming to plan work. Rather than spending huge amounts of time planning the planning, they focus on two-week bursts. Many of my clients use the 90-day sprint; if you can imagine the two-week burst is a mini version of that, where in two weeks you have to commit to what you will have completed and ready for review at the end of the two weeks. This is incredibly effective in that it helps your team to be bringing forward work that is actually being completed and then receiving feedback and making the relevant tweaks and changes. An excellent model for anyone involved in doing projects.

So what training do you have planned for your team, as you look forward to the end of this year and into 2017? One of the models that we’ve been playing with to assist our clients (and I’d love your feedback on this) is to work with companies to do a development plan for their team. Any organisation can only grow to the level of its people.

Do you have a development plan for your people? What would you do if you lost your very best salesman? Or your most technical specialist? Your production manager?

As you start to think about these questions look at each of your team members and ask, “What do they know? What risks do I have if they were suddenly not there? Who else can do what they do?” Have you ever done a skills matrix of your team to see where your gaps are, where your vulnerabilities are. Often when I work with businesses, this is where I see weaknesses. They will invest a huge amount of money in paying their staff and yet, proportionately invest very little in training them. Now that is a very generalised sweeping statement as some businesses that I work with invest very well in their team. Those are the ones that excel: because as you grow your team, you grow your business. As you grow your people, you grow their vision of what’s actually possible.

Do you have a learning organisation - do you have a learning culture? For example, do you bring in magazines that are relevant to your industry and expect team members to read them, to highlight relevant pages, to put tabs on pages that have articles that they feel other people in the team should read? If you would like to look at how you can get your organisation grow and develop, do get in touch, we’d love to help you make the most of this coming year.