There Are Two Sides to the Training Coin


December 10, 2010
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I heard a story yesterday on CNN’s American Morning about bullying.  Apparently, there is a school program called Sociable Kidz that several schools are beginning to embrace.  This program is designed by two teachers who will focus on the child who is the victim of bullying and teach that child skills to improve his or her confidence and self-esteem.  It also gives them techniques to respond to the bully when a situation arises.  While all this sounds good, what was missing for me in the CNN story was what the schools are doing to address the child who IS the bully.  Are they offering skills training for them?  Do they just punish without correcting the behavior?  Do they get rid of the child by expulsion?

Training to combat a specific problem or situation in the workplace should be no different.  There needs to be skill development for employees on both sides of the issue.  For example, if you are providing training to managers on how to give feedback, it would make sense to give training to staff on how to receive feedback.  But, we all know that does not happen in most organizations.  Feedback is a one-way street that a manager walks down.  It shouldn’t be that way, but tends to be.  A balanced training program should address both sides of the skill deficiency or issue in order to really help provide a change in behaviors, thus a change in culture.

Do you agree?  Disagree?  How has training been handled in organizations you’ve been part of?  Ever have one that addresses both side of the training coin?


  • Trish,

    You are absolutely right. Feedback is a great example. A couple others that come to mind and are often overlooked are mentoring and recognition. Even when managers know how to give recognition, not everyone knows how to receive it (sounds weird, but it’s true).

    Thanks for this reminder.


  • Unfortunately, it seems that the same, old ways to deal with bullies is still in place. The bullied is coddled, and the bully rarely gets into any trouble. I hear stories all the time from parents. Then the bullied SNAPS and gets expelled for defending themselves. I know if my child were bullied, I would probably be reviled by the parents of said bully, as I would teach my kid how to fight and fight to win (whether hypothetical child is a boy or girl) whilst away from school property, of course. That’s how I ended up solving my bullying problems when I was a child. My diminutive size made me a prime target until the bully got a quick punch in the lower abdomen and a bite on the nose…

    Also, in every organisation I have been part of, everything is a one-way street- the manager talks, the minion listens. Then again, most leaders of the organisations I have been part of have had no formal training in the world of business and dealing with HR issues. This shows in many situations that I have been faced with. Sometimes it comes out in favour of everybody; however, in many cases, the employee in question generally leaves.

    Your article is now in my mental filing cabinet for the day I open a business.

  • “Feedback is a one-way street that a manager walks down. It shouldn’t be that way, but tends to be.”

    In order for training or any conversation to be facilitated effectively there has to be a formal and informal “permission” given from those who are in power to those who may lack power.

    Without that, it may never be effective.

  • Absolutely! Any training that is not systemic in nature, i.e. takes account of the ‘whole’, is less than complete. Seeing issues such as bullying from a mechanistic, linear perspective will not address the cultural norms which allowed it to flourish in the first place.

    • @John- I think that’s why I feel frustrated at times. Often we do just approach one side of the problem and in this case of the kids being bullied, it appeared to only put the ownership on the kids being victimized. I wonder if those schools are offering skill training to the bullies. Maybe it’s just a case of the news not covering the whole story. Let’s hope so anyway. Thanks so much for weighing in!

  • Excellent point. As companies look for solutions to address bullying in the workplace, they need to see the whole picture. I believe that training programs would be far more successful if companies took your advice and provided the types of training you suggest – it would clarify a lot of issues and make it easier on everyone in the end.

    • Thanks for the comment Lindsay. I think it will just take time for organizations to really have a balanced approach to training.

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About Trish

A former HR executive and HCM product leader with over 20 years of experience.


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