Burnouts: Are YOU? Your Associates? Your Learning Plan?

This week I was going to write about when we say the magic word of “Yes”, do we really know what we’re doing?  However, after our American Society for Training and Development (ASTD) excellent local chapter meeting on Avoiding Training Burnout by Eric Benson http://www.ericbensonspeaks.com, I had to rethink big time!!

One could argue that my original topic would almost match what creates burnout. I’ve been involved with a joint venture between Wild Thyme Players and Silver Stage Players of Knoxville as Music Director of the up coming performance of “The Way the Story Goes”.  As I’ve previously underscored a performance with Wild Thyme’s production of Romeo and Juliet in 2007, I thought this new performance was going to be a breeze.  I would sit down and write something myself – a story of reflecting over life and presenting some of the images that I’ve taken over the past year.  Wrong!  Community theater has its challenges since we are all volunteers working in this field.  The leadership lessons in theater are quite interesting in comparison to the corporate world.  You can read more about this at my personal creativity website on the “Yes Conflict”:  http://becmproductions.com/blog

Now to digress back to my original topic, Eric’s high-energy and light-hearted approach stimulated my thinking about my own personal life and also about some of the people development issues we face in the corporate world.  The first thing that comes to my mind is my challenge to accomplish 35 hours of study time for the Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM) using “canned” webinar materials.  While I have a colleague who opted to take off every Thursday morning for a four hour class for the same training and is ahead of me.  (Obviously that hasn’t set to well with my small competitive nature spirit).

As I think about this even more, Eric made mention in the seminar how this “canned” training approach is for the masses when you think about this on a bell curve distribution.  For us in our site learning program, it’s difficult to get the masses to a real training class, don’t even mention getting them there on time.   Oddly, though, I teach an elective at our site about change where I take real live examples that the students bring with them to class and teach how to lead and facilitate change either at home, work, etc.  Every session is nearly full and this last class, only two pupils out of 21 was late due to work duties.  As the class is offered nearly every quarter, I’ve been thinking, “What is truly bringing them to class?”  Is it the $1 cheap metal mini slinky, or, are my facilitation skills really that good (yes, I would like to think so, but I know I have a lot to learn still – it’s probably the slinky!).  Or  am I employed at a place where the associates have a strong hunger for how to deal with change, master change that are relative to the things taking place in their individual lives?  Well that’s still yet to be determined but for me personally, I think it is having a class and meeting the associate needs at my site location.  The same thing holds true for another class that our team redesign in how to manage conflict from where we simply made this more interactive instead of lecture style approach and the positive ratings went out the roof (and also reassigned instructors).

Let’s take a moment and think about burnout for ourselves and for our pupils.  Eric made a great point that “canned training” is a little “devaluating the contribution” that an associate may make to a class or a topic.  This type of training also makes the learning process “depersonalized”.  Here are a few questions that come across my mind.  As learning professionals, does canned training excite you?  Yes, it is cost effective, but is it meeting the ROI the business desires, or you key performance indicators regarding knowledge retention, employee satisfaction, employee engagement?  Does delivering canned training excite you enough to allow your pupils to see this type of excitement?

While I love technology myself, I believe there is a time and place for all things.  As a learning professional, one must make the decision of what material your audience could benefit out of can versus the real deal.  It’s like dinner in a can or dinner prepared by Chef Emerald?  Tell me, which one would you prefer?

Now time to re-evaluate my own life to avoid more burnouts…going to find my happy spot…let me know if you happen to spot it anywhere!!!


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