To remain in a healthy physical body, medical practitioners recommend an annual physical where you are thoroughly looked over, poked and prodded and run through a series of diagnostic tests to catch anything that might be ailing you before it gets the better of you. This annual event is known the world over as a physical, and anyone that has ever gone through one can testify that it is not necessarily a fun experience, but it does often provide good news, or at the very least news that can be treated and often cured. In corporate America, industries and companies put themselves through audits each year, most often dealing with financial results. Many times the company will include functional audits on the productivity and results of individual departments. One such department that often employs the self-audit function is Human Resources. Self-audits are much like handing over the chicken house to the wolf and asking for a report on security issues. It does not reveal anything of consequence and thus is a waste of time, energy and money. Ultimately every organization should be reviewing the condition of every department that participates in the workings of their business. The Training Physical is all about evaluating the condition of the training department (Diagnose), recommending action plans (Treatment) and making training responsive (Cure) to the needs of the company. This annual review does provide the same therapeutic results if done correctly as our human annual physical. However, just like your own Medical Doctor, very few will say that self-diagnosis is as effective as getting another professional involved. In the world of auditing this also holds true, and getting an external consultant to conduct or help you with your Training Physical is just as important.
What is a Training Physical? Have you ever gone to the doctor and had a physical and gone home wondering why one thing or another wasn’t checked? With the human body it would take forever to check out absolutely everything, and so our doctors make educated decisions over what should be reviewed. Before I go any further in discussing what a training physical is in relation to the human physical, I want to set the stage for the use of this terminology. When I say a training physical, I mean an audit of the training function within your organization. When I first started working with organizations about this process, I got a lot of sour looks over the word audit. In banking where I began my career, being audited was a usually awful thing to go through, and it seemed more of a gotcha type of event, more than a helpful exercise. When you think Tax Audit, how many of you start to smile and get excited about the potential benefits? So although the process is auditing, I thought it would benefit my clients if I came up with a better word. For awhile I used the term review, and then I got the passive reaction I was going for, but a lack of understanding of the entire process. That being, what was found to be not working would have to change and be fixed. The word review was not a good replacement word for audit. It was with one client in particular that the word physical popped out of my mouth when I was describing the whole process. In some ways getting a physical is just as unpleasant as an audit, but it was a term that was instantly understood as a process of assessing and fixing. The more I realized that I was trying to explain a process I was pitching for the first time with clients, the more I realized that I needed to build a bridge between what was understood and what I was trying to discuss. Within this book you will find that I use our common understanding of a human physical to introduce a section, and then explain how it fits into a training physical, AKA training audit.
It was in 1990 that Jim Hopkins made the leap from a retail banking career to the role of a trainer, then instructional designer, performance consultant, Training Manager, Director and Chief Learning Officer. Yet at the heart of him is the role of trainer. The skill set that defines the bridge from one person knowing to another person learning. At one point Jim could train so many different topics, and was a master facilitator who engaged his audiences with humor. For a time he expressed himself with the creation of training materials with what one manager described as a natural talent. Yet his calling seemed to land in the area of performance consulting. The ability to evaluate situations and prescribe solutions that improved performance. Jim feels that training solutions should only apply if warranted and if they will make a difference. It occurred to Jim that his entire life seemed devoted to fixing things. From his early days in banking where he moved from one branch to another to bring it back to health, to the purpose of training development and even his love of home repairs, Jim likes to analyze a problem, and fix the performance. He prides himself on identifying issues early, and to be as proactive as humanly possible. Thus was born by destiny the concepts of The Training Physical. Now instead of waiting until your training department is on life support, you can begin a more proactive approach to the health of your company’s learning environment. Now is the time to make an appointment with Jim and get your Training Physical.