Full disclosure, the company I’m talking about employs my uncle.
During times of positive economics, companies tend to spend a little more on training. It is considered an extra edge to help the company continue with its fortunes. During down times it is considered nonvital. Down times do force companies to innovate to survive though and that is good for the next wave of trainees. One unique approach is a company called Teaching and Training by Design. They specialize in Leadership Development, Organizational Systems Development, Team Building, Diversity/Cultural Competency, Communication, and Personal Development. But what is great is that they build interactive solutions to reinforce the proper responses to difficult situations. Well, that doesn’t sound ground breaking. But they go the extra step and actually have what they call Performance Educators. These people are like actors except they are trained in the specialized business training needs. Anyone that has worked in a business environment knows there are certain professional norms and there are people that don’t adhere to them. I wonder to myself “what is this person thinking?” This type of training lets you ask. Also, there are sensitive times in the work environment where people just aren’t sure what is appropriate. It makes everyone feel uncomfortable and work suffers. These Performance Educators provide you the chance to get that out of the way in a simulated manner. I just finished reading Our Iceberg is Melting by John Kotter and in the back it says something that I absolutely agree with, “Thinking differently can help change behavior and lead to better results… Feeling differently can change behavior MORE and lead to even better results.” The Performance Educators create surprising, compelling, and visual experiances that lead to changing feelings in the hopes of changing behaviors. I’ve taken computer based training (CBTs) and they don’t do the problem justice. If anything, this type of training is mocked because it doesn’t understand the seriousness of the emotions and the awkwardness. Unfortunately for companies like this one is that training is still not appreciated during tough times. I hope they keep innovating.