A training manager’s diary

23 May I’ve never forgotten what my last boss told me: “Never underestimate the importance of biscuits.” He meant in training, not in life. I thought he was one crumb short of a digestive, but now I realise the wisdom of his words. For, as part of the HRD’s Operation Prune cost-cutting initiative, free biscuits and tea are no longer provided on internal courses. Every feedback form features comments along the lines of: “What’s happened to the complementary refreshments and biscuits?” I’ve told my colleague Lynda we’ll just have to provide them out of our own pockets. But we can’t agree on which varieties to buy. Who said training was easy?

25 May It’s Learning at Work Day. Lynda and I had planned to run a series of short tasters showing the training we offer staff. As this would have required paid external help, it was deemed inappropriate under the terms of Operation Prune. Instead, we set up a stand in the reception area, complete with two terminals from which users could access the multitude of courses offered on our e-learning system, SkillsOpenAllPoints. It seemed like a good idea at the time. Until, that is, the IS wallahs rolled in. It wasn’t long before they were pointing at the screens and talking techie. It wasn’t much longer before both terminals crashed, they scarpered and we called it a day. Thank goodness it’s not a week.

12 June Satisfaction, resolution and accord: the HRD has agreed to lift the biscuit ban. “Let it not be said that Prangcaster Council is heartless. From now on each delegate is entitled to two biscuits per day per course. That’ll be one in the morning and one in the afternoon, plus a cup of tea or coffee. Now let us discuss aligning training to organisational needs and objectives. Any thoughts?” I let Lynda take the lead on this one. “On the one hand”, she says, “it’s about developing staff to their full potential, and on the other, erm, staying within budget and fulfilling customer expectations.” The HRD frowns slightly, walks to the white-board and, with a flourish of permanent marker pen, writes: “Our remit is not to develop staff to their full potential. Think about it.” I must check his training record. And remove that permanent marker. Usage is against departmental policy.

13 June E-mail from the HRD with received and read options ticked. It’s short. It’s simple. “From henceforward, trainers’ free lunches are cancelled. This will pay for the biscuits and meet a key target: we must stay within budget. Operation Prune continues.”I tell Lynda it’s the bunker mentality and we are witnessing his final days. Speaking of which, it won’t be long before head of mainten-ance Darren and his mob undertake their team-building day. Rock Hard Training has sent me the itinerary. At my insistence, they’ve added a drama element where Dazz and his team will act out handling diversity and gender issues with sympathy and due regard to the Prancaster code of conduct.

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