Tip #576: Does Repetition Result in Duplication or Reinforcement?

Things are not always as they seem; the first appearance deceives many. Phaedrus

An agency for which I do some consulting recently became aware that there was some repetition of content and activities in the various training programs given to new supervisors.

This overlap had most probably occurred for years. It only came to light when, due to a serendipity of scheduling, a new supervisor experienced and then articulated his concern about what he perceived to be duplication.

The agency took this matter seriously and engaged me to review the four different programs that new supervisors were expected to attend.

It became clear that there was some duplication and there were also recurrences that could be perceived as duplication.

One activity had been included in the agendas of two separate programs. That was the only instance of exact duplication. This was easily addressed by a decision by the program administrators to remove the activity from one of the programs.

What the new supervisor also termed “duplication” was actually the reappearance of the same management and human resource service representatives in different programs, albeit with different messages.

Their presentations varied by program because each of these four supervisory programs had a very different focus.

One two-day program was concerned with preparing new supervisors to handle their daily administrative responsibilities in a manner consistent with the agency’s policies and procedures.

A second two-day program prepared new supervisors to function as part of the management team in their specific division within the agency.

A third monthly program helped new supervisors build and/or strengthen the interpersonal and personal skills they needed to be successful in their positions.

A fourth two-day program was designed to orient all new employees, including new supervisors, to the mission, products, services and resources of the division.

There was one other instance of repetition that involved a panel discussion and question and answer session concerning the role of supervisors in the disciplinary process. This discussion was repeated in three of the new supervisor programs.

Although the topic was the same, as the new supervisors gained more experience in their new roles, they had new questions and concerns regarding specific supervisory situations current at that time.

It should be noted that another benefit offered by the repeated contact with the management team and human resource services representatives was the opportunity for the new supervisors to get to know and build relationships with these key personnel.

The morale of the story is that it is a good idea to avoid duplication of the exact same content in training programs that the same participants will attend.

However, it is not duplication when the same presenters come to different programs with messages that focus on distinctly different issues. Instead, it provides useful reinforcement of essential information and builds important relationships.

May your learning be sweet.



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