Have you ever wondered why there is so much resistance from the leaders? One factor we have seen over the years has to do with the way the training department communicates with their leaders. For so long, training and OD have not been given a lot of respect in their organizations. So, in order to establish their credibility, training and OD professionals began to position themselves as "experts." Experts can have a tendency to approach others with a superior attitude that can make others feel uncomfortable. Leaders have egos and don't like being made to feel stupid, nor do they like being told what to do.
To be effective, one of the roles of the training/OD department needs to be that of consultant versus "expert prescriber." The difference between the two is that the consultant asks questions and works with leadership to gain mutual agreement on the issues and answers, which leads to mutual commitment to the end results and how to achieve them.
The "expert prescriber" on the other hand, operates more like a doctor. A doctor is the expert. We, as patients listen to our doctor and do what he or she tells us to do. This method doesn't work as well with organizational leaders. While it is true that many times we know exactly what needs to be done, we are dealing with folks who have made to their level within an organization because they were good at their jobs and knew what they were doing. They would be more willing to commit to any initiatives if they felt you are working together to help them and the organization achieve the desired results.
By working consultatively with leaders at all levels to clarify their objectives and identify what needs to be done to achieve those objectives, they begin to see you as a collaborator who is focused on helping them achieve their objectives and being successful. By so doing, you will be successful too. They are more willing to share their needs with you and explore options for meeting those needs. The focus is on the outcomes the outcomes the leaders want to achieve rather than the training itself. The training becomes a means to an end rather than the end itself.
Of course, training isn't always the answer to the "how" of achieving the results desired. There are seven reasons why people don't do what they should:
- They don't know why they need to do it.
- They don't know what they need to do.
- They don't know they are not doing what they should be doing.
- There is no payoff for them personally to do it; and/or there is no consequence for not doing it.
- Organizational obstacles or barriers get in the way.
- They don't know how.
- They simply can't, even if all the other reasons were covered.
As a consultative collaborator, you can help your managers, in a non-threatening way, explore what their employees really need and find the right kind of solution. If training is the answer, you definitely will have their commitment, because you came to this conclusion together. Together you can create a roadmap to success, which is viewed as important to their success.