I must confess, I have felt an ongoing sense of dissatisfaction with the word “training” – along with its many cousin terms, such as “teaching,” “performance support,” “mentoring,” etc.
Not that there is anything wrong with the terms themselves, or that they don’t possess valid descriptions and distinctions. I just have a tendency – probably “compulsion” is more accurate – to try to find universal themes that provide a comprehensive framework around the particulars. To put it more simply, let’s ask the key question: What’s the point?
Are these things ends in themselves? Or is there a larger goal that encompasses all of these activities, and other related endeavors (parenting, school-teaching, pastoring, etc.)? I believe there is.
I have five children. Many of my professional colleagues work to develop dozens of employees. And our goal is not simply to impart knowledge, or to train to perform a set of tasks. It is to equip – that is, to impart what is needed to to live and labor successfully. When a teacher, a trainer, a parent, a pastor, a drill sergeant, or a coach stands in front of his/her “audience,” the point is to make those under his/her influence better able to function and thrive. Nothing less.
What is involved in equipping others? Here’s a rough outline of steps, under the categories of Ready – Set – Go:
1. Understand the current reality of the person and context – this gives clarity.
2. Point to the desired goals (actions, attitudes, end points) – this gives direction.
3. Show/be a good example/model – this gives hope.
4. Provide the correct environment (positive, helpful “management”) – this gives support.
5. Impart the right knowledge (the right amount, at the right time, in the right way) – this gives enlightenment.
6. Provide motivating incentives – this gives drive.
7. Map out attainable steps of progress – this gives confidence.
8. Provide the right feedback (reinforcement and correction) – this gives guidance and confirms success.
Whether we’re looking at personal development (character, mind, affect, societal and family roles) or professional development (roles and skills), the end point and the process is the same.
All of which implies one very crucial thing – a manager, a trainer, a coach, a parent, a teacher, or any other type of influencer must, at the core, be a servant. Because, ultimately, we are expending ourselves to make someone better. To equip is to give – and I would submit that there is no higher honor than to occupy that role.