AR training: what it is, and what it isn’t

The growing demand for analyst relations managers is also reflected in the rising interest in training for analyst relations. However, training can only meet some needs, and not all people will find training seminars the best way to develop analyst relations expertise.

Lighthouse has four-level development program for analyst relations managers. Each stage is focused on one part of the analyst relations process. Every one involves both a full-day class, one-to-one sessions and opportunities follow up. Many people feel that they don’t need that: they need a quick ‘sheep dip’ to gather the basics and then they want to learn on the job. Others have found that they need to learn different things that fit to what they are doing right now: they want to go deeper on areas where they are weak.

This simply reflects different learning styles. However, our observation is that one day courses are only one day courses. Real professional development is a cycle. Our series of events goes part of the way, but most AR managers need ongoing coaching and mentoring to really develop. Large AR teams need to really offer professionals the sort of skill-based assessment that the professions use, and which are exemplified by the professional bodies for management consulting and project management.

In the United States, people feel they need to hit the ground running, fast. Courses are sometimes called ‘boot camps‘, to reflect the grueling and humiliating induction courses used to weed out those with the wrong frame of mind. This approach has both strengths and weaknesses. Importantly, the demand is there. It’s also excellent at building up functional vocabulary. However, specialist vocabulary is suggestive of expertise but can conceal a lack of expertise. For example, Lighthouse gives a lot of projects to MBA students: all of them can describe what a stock’s Beta signifies, but few can explain how to calculate it. That means they can’t all easily use that understanding, because some of them have an understanding of concepts like those that are too shallow, for example, to spot a simple error.

That’s a really challenge for people developing stand-alone courses, and it suggests a choice: Either they focus on the core AR skills, through role-play and feedback on a portfolio of work, or they focus on the high level overview and some sort of worldview, in which the analyst industry and AR has to be simplified. Lighthouse’s alternative is to cover only part of AR in each day. Four days over one year with regular discussions, is a partial solution. Not every firm will invest that much time in training. Furthermore, learning styles differ. Some people learn by reflection, others by going. That means that development plans will be more effective if they are personalized.

The bottom line is this: AR training seminars are only part of the solution. Developing good AR people also involves regular coaching and mentoring.

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