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Sometimes in my work as a productivity trainer, clients ask if I can “customize” training.  The problem with that question is the vast subjectivity of the word “customize.”  So my answer (like a good accountant or attorney! ) is always, “it depends.”

There are some clients who initially think that I should see how they work, and then customize productivity training to their work style.  This presents a challenge for me because in my 15 years of productivity training, I have learned that there are behaviors and habits and systems that work, and those that don’t.  So in my opinion, productivity training is similar to learning to fly a plane or learning to dance the tango.  If you were to go take tango lessons, the dance teacher wouldn’t say to you, “Let me see how you like to dance the tango and then I’ll customize my lesson to your style of dance.” Nor would a flight instructor say, “Let me watch how you like to fly the plane and then I’ll customize my flight lessons to your flight style.”  It’s the same with productivity training; there are basic skill sets and processes that work, and then there are those that don’t, and what I’m there to teach you are the ways that work.

It’s true that everyone has a different work style, and those styles need to be accommodated.  However, everyone who goes through my training learns the same behaviors, skills, techniques, and processes, because my experience has taught me what works.  And that’s what my clients are relying on me for.  It’s the way those behaviors, skills, techniques, and processes are implemented and used, that varies by client. So in one sense, I don’t customize my training.  However if a client says to me, “We’re really good at paper management and filing here, but what we’re not very good at is managing e-mail and interruptions.  So can you design a training that addresses these needs?” The answer to that is, of course, “yes.”

This information can be helpful to consider when you hire outside help to learn a new skill or create a new behavior.  Remember that the person you’re hiring has experience in their subject area.  And when discussing customization, ensure that everyone is on the same page as to what that means, and be willing to open your mind to new ways of doing things.