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Policy – an extra plank in your training platform

 Over the last five weeks, I’ve looked at 5 Ps that will make sure you develop and deliver sensational training:

  • Partnership
  • Personas
  • Performance
  • Process
  • Proof.
As I start to think about my next professional speaking engagement on the topic, I’ve gone back to the seven steps I describe in the book and pulled out one more ‘P’ for you: Policy.
Before you invest a lot of time for no return, it pays to ask a few hard questions. If you don’t, be sure your manager and financial officer will do so, long before you get to put the proposition to your elected representatives, who will probably ask the toughest question of all!
Two questions need scoping out before you do anything about environmental training:
  • is training the solution to the problem? 
  • why should your organization do it? Can/should/will anyone else do it instead?
To answer the first question; training won’t solve your problem if you can’t define the environmental Performance gap in terms of what actions people need to change or acquire: trainees must have a clear definition of what they need to do.  
To answer the second: there are several reasons why public agencies can justify running or supporting environmental training programs. The most common is that the required training is not available elsewhere: issue- or locality-specific performance needs are often not addressed in formal qualifications or by other training providers, so over time public agency staff build up expertise not often found anywhere else. 
Of course, the issue must fall broadly within the legal mandate of the environmental agency and there must be a demonstrable cause-and-effect link between the environmental issues observed and outcomes desired and the identifiable performance issues in the relevant sector.
Equally obviously, large organizations and utilities can set up their own in-house training, and such initiatives can be very effective.
Sources of data and evidence for your initial research that can justify setting up a training program (as well as monitoring its ongoing effectiveness) can include things like: 
  • state of the environment monitoring indicating an emerging or intensifying problem
  • monitoring of environmental permits indicating poor compliance with conditions 
  • high use of enforcement compared with other methods of promoting good performance 
  • reviews of the effectiveness of plans, policies, regulations and enforcement that indicate different methods need to be used to achieve desired outcomes 
  • public complaints or concerns about the issue and/or its current management 
  • introduction of new legislation, policies, strategies or guidelines that change the performance benchmark 
  • industry requests for assistance 
  • evidence from other jurisdictions about the cost-effectiveness of training.
The other parts of the policy framework include: 
  • the creation of a new technical guideline or adaptation of someone else’s to help those in the sector of interest use effective environmental control measures
  • regulatory procedures to ensure that they obtain environmental approvals that require the control measures to be used. 
In my experience, it is desirable for public agencies delivering environmental training to have some leverage over the relevant sector, whether via legal approvals and/or enforcement or other methods such as financial penalties or incentives and so on, to make a good case for their attending the training.
These 6 Ps will help you build a compelling case for the need for your training program. I wish you all the best with it!

This information comes from various parts of my book ‘Seven Steps to Successful Environmental Training’.