Thoughts about business and economic development in rural areas.


February 2018
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Just did two customer service training sessions co-hosted by a chamber of commerce and a university. Great group of people in attendance and I really enjoyed working with them. Enjoyable day, no problems. Right?

Not quite. On the way home one item started to bother me more and more. During discussion in one of the sessions a participant indicated that she had been ‘sent’ to the session. It was obvious from her tone that she felt that this was a signal from her employer that her customer service skills were considered sub-par and she was being sent to this session to be ‘fixed’. To make matters worse, another of her co-workers in attendance said she felt the same way. It was obvious the two hadn’t talked about it as the second person seemed almost relieved that she wasn’t the only one who felt that way.

Unfortunately we didn’t have time at that point to pursue the matter but this really concerns me. As a participant I’ve always looked at training sessions and workshops as an opportunity. And with that attitude I’ve always felt that if I walk away with just one idea that I can use it’s been well worth my time. But folks who feel they are being punished or see training as an unpleasant task, what do they get out of it? This is scary. I took some consolation in that both participants seemed to be having a good time and after a little while had warmed up to the group and the information being discussed. We’d overcome the initial obstacle of attitude but how much time did we lose before getting there?

Could this have been avoided? I went back and looked at the promotional material that had been sent to businesses. It was well done and seemed very positive in nature. But could we have done a better job in helping managers ‘sell’ this to the people they were asking to attend?

I think in terms like, “Reward your best staff with…..” or “Give this gift to….” etc.

If training is viewed as a punishment we all lose.


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