Note: This article originally appeared on Training or Training
I have been asked for a blog on training. Such a vast topic! I am a Senior Learning Specialist for a Fortune 20 company; I specialize in facilitation, coaching and development as well as team building. I have seen a lot of programs and presentations. I have delivered the good, the bad, and the ugly. I consider myself a developer of people, whether it's a student, colleague, new employee or other colleagues. Their success, their growth, their development is my success. Honestly, I'm not that different than most people who go into training or higher learning. It's my mission in life to help people achieve their dreams, their potential, and their goals in life.
I am often asked, “What do you do when you are not training?” To me training or teaching isn't something you do that starts and stops. Most of us consider it a lifestyle as we live and breathe developing others. The question really is what do you do when you aren't doing instructor led training. The truth is we are constantly developing training and preparing for our next presentations or making adjustments to what we just delivered to make it better. Often I have heard, “I wish I had your job. It looks so fun and easy.” Oh how I wish that were true! It is fun but like every role, it can be challenging at times. I do consider these statements compliments because that means they had a positive learning experience and I did my job well.
What's the most challenging thing you face as a trainer? For me personally, it can be a challenge if a project isn't vetted out well so there are missing pieces to the information we are giving out. It can also be challenging if we didn't recruit the right talent, or if the people in e training just simply do not want to be there. It's a challenge because our sole purpose is to support our teammates and set them up for success. Lack of planning, lack of skills, lack of engagement can often lead to unsuccessful outcomes no matter how great you are at facilitation. If you have engaged employees with the desired skill set and a well thought out program to deliver, your training will be incredible. In fact, the least experienced trainer can plan and deliver a successful program.
How can we overcome these challenges? Start planning early. Involve training personnel, supervisors, and managers in your process. Talk about what positive skills they need more than what you are not looking for. Have a clear picture of the ideal candidate. Encourage those interviewing, recruiting, and hiring to only recommend people they personally would be willing to have on their team. Set expectations in the interview to make sure the candidate also knows exactly what skills are required. They are interviewing your organization too. Be selective, and be honest. Just because the candidates are nice and sweet doesn't always mean they have the computer skills or critical thinking skills the job may require. Your interview questions are important so take time to plan your process.
Include training in your projects whether new developments or process changes. Trainers are the experts at Analysis, Design, Development, Implementation and Evaluation. Not everything requires a class; some things are just communications or coaching. Coaching doesn't mean disciplinary actions. Guiding, advising, and mentoring your employees is a valuable asset. As you invest in their continued growth and success they will reward you in increased productivity, loyalty, dedication, hard work and dependability.
What is the desired result in training employees? How do we achieve it?
Slapping a power point together and just presenting it has proven to be only 20% effective for adult learners. So how important is your goal? Then your training has to be accurate, realistic, and interactive. This takes time and preparation. Sometimes more time than you may want. The more you involve your training teams up front and throughout your project plans, the more success your program will have in achieving the desired results. It's hard in a world when we have to react quickly and achieve results fast to get the detail and quality that is desired by all.
It's important to have a team of trainers that ask the right questions and can react to timeliness, but it's also important to set realistic goals and time frames.
Creating an engaged learning environment is probably the most challenging set of tasks we have as trainers. This requires a cultural shift in changing attitudes about what training is. Because it is often mistaken for information dissemination, which is presentation without participation, people become resistant, thinking, “You could have just e-mailed that to me,” or worse, “You just e-mailed that. Why am I here?” It will negate the whole program when we just deliver a presentation.
We as trainers have to deliver to others on what’s in it for them? That means stepping it up to how the value of development as professionals. Teach them don't just show them. Allow your participants to participate. Facilitation is required, managing tough questions, creative discussions, and being able to tie everything back to the purpose, the goals, and the objectives.
Then and only then will you have a true environment of learning and development.
The solution to changing our culture is right in front of us. What attributes did the best training, seminar, or professional development you personally attended have? What was your worst experience? Food for thought. Hopefully, I have highlighted for you not only the life we lead as trainers and learning specialist, but I hope I have opened your eyes to training not just being training, when it has the potential to elevate your business and programs with the right formula.
Final thought, development through training is an investment. Are you willing to take that risk and invest the time and resources to get your desired results?
Gail Rector is a learning specialist for a Fortune 20 company primarily responsible for the delivery of technical training for both newly hired employees as well developmental training for all employees emphasizing in Customer Service