You’ve completed your training. You’re excited to bring the programme methods back to your organisation and to see the results. You walk into the building with a spring in your step, already wanting to implement some small changes in your own behaviour, because you are going to change the world!
Then you sit down in front of your computer and open your email.
While you were gone, there were some intense crisis incidents, all of which need your attention, some of the documentation is lacking, and three of your most person-centred staff resigned. You sigh, because you know they would have been some of the best champions for this new initiative. You also know that this particular initiative could have prevented all of these incidents - or at least minimised the trauma involved.
You try to talk to your manager about this revelation, but she’s too stressed out about what happened to address your concerns - or to hear your solution. So you go back to your desk, feeling unsupported.
Two years later, you’re due for your renewal training. You’re the only one who is certified to teach this programme to staff, and there continues to be high turnover, and repeated incidents where staff and clients get hurt. “If only I had more support,” you lament.
As a Global Professional Instructor, I hear this all the time. As a manager, I appreciate a solution-focused approach to the issue. So, I did a little bit of research myself, talking to three executives at CPI: chief executive officer Tony Jace, chief customer officer Marvin Mason, and president Susan Driscoll, who each offered some perspective.
Let’s first take a deeper look at the statement ‘my organisation doesn’t support me’.
What kind of support are you seeking? From an administrator’s point of view, they’ve just approved a hefty chunk of money to send you to the training. It’s probably not a good idea to march into their office saying, “You don’t support me!”
Administrators may not fully understand what needs to happen next. As Marvin Mason says: “Leaders often react to ‘what I know right now’.” And what they know right now is high-level information: budgeting concerns, other initiatives that are co-occurring, funders’ expectations, etc. Anything below that is details, and that executive team member may rely on their competent staff to work those out.
“But I can’t work out those details without funding for workbooks and time to train staff, and you’re the person who signs off on it!”
Marvin has a few suggestions:
- First, schedule a meeting and provide an agenda. No leader I’ve ever worked with likes to be blindsided with a request. The agenda can also provide some context for the meeting.
- Know your organisation’s strategic initiatives and relate your goals to those initiatives. Have some data readily available. For example: “We want 20% of our staff trained by October, so I need 10 more people in my September class. Can you send an email to the managers to see who still needs training and can attend?” (Bonus idea: draft the email yourself and have it ready to go when you meet with this person - it’ll save them time and will likely be appreciated.)
- Be familiar with job descriptions and regulations. If training is required by either of these things, then it has got to be a priority for the organisation.
- It isn’t necessarily just one person who signs off on something, Tony Jace reminds me. It can be a whole committee or board of directors.
- Now all of this might not be what you want to hear. If you’re already overwhelmed, the last thing you want to do is more work. I get it. It’s not easy, but future you - and your future colleges and clients - will thank you for your efforts.
Next, find out which committee(s) / teams or departments have a say in these kinds of organisational decisions. Ask around to see how you can get invited onto the committee or join in the next meeting.
Being a part of a committee - or even just attending a meeting - can help you see where its priorities are, and you can see the work that’s already been done (maybe your training already addresses those priorities, and you can let the members know).
If you can get invited to one of these meetings, again, go with data. Know where your gaps are and how they manifest themselves. Is it an organisational-wide gap, or does it seem unique to only a couple of departments? Get your risk or compliance manager on board. These folks not only have the data, but also know the organisation’s current benchmarks.
Some wise words about benchmarks courtesy of Tony: keep them attainable and straightforward. For example, teachers want to maximise teaching time in their classrooms, but incidents detract from teaching time. What if a teacher was able to reduce incidents by just one per day? What if three teachers in one school were able to accomplish that goal? The amount of teaching time starts to add up.
While at many organisations legislation, regulations, or accrediting bodies guarantee at least some funding for your training programs, don’t forget about the reason behind these requirements: staff need to be safe at work. No staff member should ever have to get hurt on the job, especially by the people they are trying to help. Organisations have a legal (if not ethical) obligation to provide their workers the training and skills that will help them be as safe as possible.
Understanding this can help you when approaching decision-makers. Susan Driscoll recommends a succinct, step-by-step approach:
- Know what type of training staff need: verbal de-escalation skills? Autism spectrum disorders? Improved physical skills? Different departments/groups of staff may have differing needs.
- What mode of delivery will be the most effective? In-person classes? Online training?
- What’s the end goal? Simple compliance with regulations and standards? Meeting (or exceeding) benchmarks?
- Do we have enough Certified Instructors to accomplish our objectives?
Susan adds that when it comes to budgeting, the assumption that training comes out of a set budget can be misleading. If we are planning on providing organisation-wide training, then the funds may come out of multiple budgets. This is for the organisational leaders to decide, of course, but it’s helpful to know that when funding sources are spread out, getting “organisation support” (ie willingness to pay for training resources) can be easier.
Then Susan recommends pulling at the heartstrings a bit. “Tell the story. What’s been the impact of the training so far?” What if you got a few staff members together for a meeting with a decision-maker? Have each staff member thank that decision-maker for providing a training that helped them remain safe at work, and then tell a quick story about how the training kept them safe. Not many high-level decision-makers get to hear those stories. Maybe they should.
And there’s no harm in letting these stories inspire you, either. There’s some important work cut out for you, so remind yourself why it matters! What you’re doing is well worth it.
Getting support for training could mean paying for the training (and resources, and staff time). It could mean holding staff accountable to what they learned after training, or ensuring policies and procedures are in alignment with the training, and making the training - its philosophy and practices - a true priority in an organisation.
As always, Tony, Susan, and Marvin reiterate, CPI is here to support you. Call us on 0161 929 9777 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to get in touch.
The support is there. Sometimes you just need to know where to look, and how to ask.