About our Blog post author: Jeremy King, SPHR, Business Development Manager: Jeremy King serves as business development manager at FlashPoint, an Indianapolis-based human resource and business consulting firm. Jeremy oversees the company’s marketing efforts and often spends time on the road, attending conferences, speaking at meetings, or representing FlashPoint at industry events. In addition to managing business development, Jeremy builds and delivers training to clients and assists with other projects. He is certified as a Senior Professional in Human Resources and has worked for more than eleven years in the industry, with experience starting and running his own training and development firm. Jeremy holds a bachelor’s degree in management from the Kelley School of Business at Indiana University–Indianapolis. He is on the board of directors for the Kiwanis Club of Indianapolis and for IndySHRM. He also serves on the Greater Indianapolis Chamber of Commerce’s ChamberAction committee and on Special Olympics Indiana’s special events support team.

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Have you ever woken on a Saturday and thought, “What a beautiful day; I think I will go for a run. I need to get in shape and there is no better time than today for me to get started”? So you lace up your shoes, do a couple of calf stretches and you are off . . . for about a half mile. At the half-mile mark the legs start tingling, the heart is pounding, and the brain finally catches up with the body so all you can think about is when you can stop. The next day you feel uncomfortably sore, don’t run again for quite some time, and do not get in shape. Don’t worry—you are not alone.

Many organizations take the same approach to learning and development. Perhaps an incident occurs, you read a good article or book, or you have an uncomfortable conversation that leads you to think, “Wow, we need some training.” You set up a two-hour training session and participants listen to a dynamic facilitator, toss a few balls around, and leave energized.  You feel good about the effort, but you do not see any results or changes in behavior. Rarely does learning (like running) fail because of the event; it fails because of the lack of preparation and follow through. You just wasted time, energy, and money. Don’t feel bad—you are not alone.

A few weeks ago some of my fellow marathoners and I decided that we should all do one last marathon together. We determined that we need to go BIG at a cool location, with all of us running together. We decided to run in Barcelona, Spain, in March 2011. The goal is set . . . done and done. Then reality set in. I haven’t run a marathon in seven years. My knees crack from years of athletic abuse, and I am now built more like an anti-cardio ex-football player who only does bench press and curls at the gym. The excuses come a lot easier these days for me (kind of like in business where we can blame the economy for all of our problems). The funny thing is, I know I will finish, as I know what it takes to run 26.2 miles—a goal, a plan, support, lifestyle changes, and lots of training.

Do you see the parallel to learning and development? The questions are very similar; all you have to do is substitute the “my” with “we” and put it in a business context:

•        What is my SMART goal?

•        What is my plan to achieve that goal?

•        What support or whose support do I need?

•        What lifestyle changes do I need to make?

•        What type of training do I need (just like with learning it isn’t just one “thing”)? How much time will it take?

•        What resources do I need to assist with my training?

•        Is this something I really want to do and am I willing to put in the work in order to achieve the results I want?

Developing your employees takes a serious commitment and a well-thought-out plan. A longtime client and friend, Cindy Allen-Stuckey (HR director at Knauf Insulation), has always said, “If training is the answer, what is the question?” If you can answer that question, then developing your employees will be easy, just like running a marathon.