Attention Training Managers


Have you ever noticed that some training functions have to produce results while others do not?  And by results I mean behavior changes, not butts in seats.  Why do so many training functions lack staff, funding to expand and are not recognized as important?  Bottom line, either you don’t matter or no one knows what you are doing for the company.

While many of you have formats within your company to broadcast your results, I’d like you to consider a bigger platform.  Most of you reading this blog post probably found it via your connection to me on LinkedIn, and I bet big time that most of you are connected on LinkedIn to several employees within your company that could benefit from knowing how successful your training department is for the company.  So try posting once a week what your training department accomplished for the company.  How did you improve sales, service, operations, stay in compliance, save money?

Now think about the people in your company that you are NOT connected to in LinkedIn.  Is the CEO one of your connections?  Would they benefit from hearing from you weekly about the value you provide to the company?  Go get connected to the people that can provide you support by giving them the information needed to support you!

Another side benefit to posting on LinkedIn will be the company that wants to hire you.  Actually it is the company that wants a Training Manager that can actually accomplish things for them.  Imagine the job offers that could come out of the blue just because you tooted your own horn.

If you try this, come back and post your successes.

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Is Adult Learning A Failure Where You Work?


thumbnailCA4Z1XR6In my humble opinion, there is a primary reason for when a company fails at adult learning. The number one, the very tip top reason is when the management team exercises their limited understanding of adult learning into the solution process. Yet this same group of highly incompetent leaders will always have a scapegoat standing by to sacrifice and blame when things go wrong.

It begins by the management team deciding they need a training function for a public relations campaign to attract and retain employees. They decide what this new hire will do and create a job description that includes every task that a good brain storming session can list. And for anyone that has participated in a brain storming session, remember “no idea is excluded” from the initial list. However, step two is to whittle that first list down to a prioritized list, and most just ship that first set of ideas off to recruitment to create a job posting.

Hence, the management team as a whole leaves the meeting believing they are someday going to find this superhero to run training. The truth is you may find a single person that can do everything on the list, but neither at the same time or within their lifetime so most of the time you hire incompetence.

So eventually they find someone they can hire, with the job title the applicant is dying to have, and the race for control begins. Actually, a member of management has been assigned the task of supervising training, so this new hire has to be someone that can be manipulated. You see, the selection committee has already turned down any applicant that would actually try to lead the function, and experienced learning professionals never applied, so what you have is a lump of clay that needs molding.

Initially this new trainer tries to lead the function, but often wallows for months before they realize they are in over their heads. So the senior leader starts to design a training function. They create solutions that usually don’t work, and in a year or so when it all collapses the blame quickly shifts to the scapegoat (AKA the training manager) and either terminate them or force them to resign.

At this point the process is repeated because no one else in senior management knows better. No one challenges this insanity, and the chaos continues. Only when someone says wait a minute and questions the process does it begin to end.

If adult learning is a failure at your company what is being done to change it? Or wait, do you even know if training is healthy and working or are you being told it is just fine?

Who Leads Your Training Function?


OIPBefore you are quick to answer the question of who leads your training function with a knee-jerk response like, “we have a training manager”, I want you to think about whether they “LEAD” it, or whether another person is pulling the strings.

Many organizations will have a position that they title as their Training Manager, Training Director or even Training Officer, but they are in reality order takers that implement directives from another person within the organization. It many cases it is the HR function, Chief Administrative Officer or a line manager that is leading the function. But no matter whom it is that leads your training function, ask yourself if they are qualified.

For many of you reading, I bet I struck a nerve with that single word “qualified.” Yet the reality is that too many organizations are run by folks that are not qualified, have no competencies in adult learning principles and are failing your organization and your learning efforts.

There are many times I watch training decisions that are made with obvious lack of competencies in adult learning so outcomes will be difficult to achieve. My favorite one is learning too early where it is weeks or months away before the learners will be able to practice or use their new skills. Another is the famous expert talking about or showing a process and that constitutes learning. No practice, just the old watch and listen to an expert and magically learning happens.

The whole concept of learning that returns on the investment is more than the dollar cost returning on the investment. It is the time and energy taken away from working and not getting any payoff for your idea of a learning event. So with that understanding, we must have competent people leading the training function or you could be doing more damage than good.

I designed The Training Physical to determine the health of your training function. And while at times there are those occasions where it is a minor fix, a majority of the time it starts with the leader. If they are competent, and are allowed to lead, you will be in good shape. If either of those areas is deficient, so is the training function and results.

What is “Pointless Training”?


Pointless Training CoverI was speaking with a new publisher the other day who wanted to know more about the book I wrote on the consequences of inadequate training strategies call “Pointless Training”. He asked me, what makes training ever pointless?

Without even knowing what he said, he encapsulated the whole premise of why I wrote this book as a follow up to “The Training Physical”. The very idea that all training is worth something and never pointless is why I wrote this guide.  For idealists who believe all learning is valuable, even if it dissipates rapidly afterwards is why so much of the training that goes on in corporate America today is pointless.

Training needs to produce results, and not just space in your work day.  If you want a meeting to have donuts included, don’t call it training.  Although even a meeting should provide results, training is too expensive not to return on the investment.  Yet every day somewhere in America someone is designing, facilitating or attending a training event that will fall flat soon after it finishes.

My book guides the training manager through the typical training subjects that they are asked to address and lays out processes to avoid and where to insert processes to make sure learning sticks, performance changes and a return on investment is possible.  There is nothing else like it on the market and only $15 from the publisher or online bookstores.

Read more about both of my books at www.TheTrainingPhysical.com

Coaching The Training Manager


285671_D1L1_01Back when this guy began his training career some 30 years ago I was surrounded by highly skilled facilitators, instructional designers, organizational development consultants and training leaders.  I had some of the best mentors and coaches for the first 10 years of my career and it is why I know how to lead a learning function.

I still remember my first training manager, and to this day still the most skilled of everyone, ask me why I asked so many questions about being a trainer.  I really couldn’t answer her well, and she said “it is more than how to do the job with you but more of why certain things are done certain ways.”  I agreed and she said if I was serious she would train me in the craft of adult learning.

Unfortunately today too many of the people managing training really don’t know enough to perform their jobs well.  In fact they do more damage than they should because they have not been able to learn their craft.  Formal training to be a training professional is not the same as having a mentor/coach to guide you.  It is why every person I have ever managed got my time and attention in their development if this was a career they wanted to pursue.

I’ve also on occasion been hired to mentor/coach valued employees that companies want to retain, and realize they lack the skills and need support.  Maybe you have that kind of a person running your learning function.  You call them a training manager, but their results never return on the investment.  If you need an experienced learning professional, but want the person that has the job to become that person, let’s evaluate the possibilities.  If they have a Trainer’s Heart, I can train the skills they are missing.

Jim@jkhopkinsconsulting.com

Training Managers Should Step Up To Leadership


OIP

If you are a training manager that once upon a time began your career as a facilitator, but somehow still does a lot of the day to day training for your organization, its time you step up your game and become a leader.

While I’m the guy who coined the phrase “a trainer’s heart” as the core of any solid learning development professional, I never intended that to imply that the head of training should be a full time facilitator. Granted many of you have the title of Training Manager because it looks good on the resume, but what happens when someone wants to hire you to actually lead a training function? You have the title, but none of the implied experience.

 

I place the blame equally between HR Recruiting, the Hiring Manager, and the Applicant for any job where the title doesn’t match the job description.

Let’s begin by stating, any title with the word “manager” should include staff or projects to manage. If you are a sole contributor that takes directions from others and does not set your own agenda, consider a title without manager or director in the name.

At the same time, and this applies to HR Recruiting and the Hiring Manager, don’t expect Leadership and Vision from someone and title the role as a “Training Specialist” or “Training Officer” as the match will be difficult, and expectations will often be unmet.

 

However, my main point is that if you are the “Director of Training” and you have a staff, why on earth are you hosting webinars as the administrative function? Why are you always front and center delivering a majority of the training events? Why do you let the Senior Leadership Team tell you “it has to be you” and no one else is as qualified? Why are you avoiding your responsibilities of Leadership?

In my 30 years in training, I dearly loved my time in the trainer chair. I loved the live audience and I was told by some talented L&D people that I was really good at facilitation. However, as a leader, I knew that adults will learn best from a variety of talents, and that I serve others best by putting as many different people in the trainer chair as I could. While I never gave up facilitation completely, even when I was a Chief Learning Officer, I learned I could choose the programs I most wanted to train, and I often became Master Certified so I could be involved in my staff’s certification process.

Becoming a great leader involves letting go. I would highly encourage any Training Manager that is not learning to lead their function that they need to let go quickly and become the leader their organization needed the day they were hired.

 

Time for Training Managers to Learn Themselves


homework

If I read one more blog, or post from a Training Manager encouraging the employees they serve to take this time at home to “learn more about YOUR job” I’m going to explode. What is that expression, “Physician, Heal Thyself?” Yes, I’m talking to at least half of the corporate training managers in America that have not learned how to do their own job any better since the day they got it but enjoy preaching to others the value of learning.

10 years ago I began noticing how poorly so many corporate training functions were run and wrote my first book “The Training Physical: Diagnose, Treat & Cure Your Training Department as a way to introduce a quick audit process that can improve this vital function. Large corporations don’t need this because they never waste money hiring inexperienced talent passing themselves off as learning professionals and hold them accountable for results. Yet mid to small companies do hire the wrong people all the time.

When I was hired to conduct a Training Physical, I often found pages of issues, but nothing that couldn’t be fixed. I also often found training leadership that had what I referred to as having a Trainer’s Heart, or someone that cared whether others learned. These were teachable people who with the right training, coaching and mentoring often turned into great training managers. They lacked direction and motivation but not heart.

5 years ago I wrote a follow up book called “Pointless Training: The Consequences of Inadequate Training Strategies. I looked at common topics trained and how they are often done so poorly they become pointless and what changes are needed to make them purposeful. Senior Management especially gave the highest feedback to the content because it explained why their training was not working.

The biggest rub in my 30 + years in training development have been that my peer group has seen me as a threat to the status quo. Training evaluation has always been a sore topic with developers, facilitators and managers, but you know what, too bad! We all in this field need to learn to do our job well enough to pay back what it cost to run our departments at the very least. I can still remember years back when the industry tried to convince the world we were just a cost center, and to learn to live with cut backs when times were tough. That was BS then and it is still today.

So if you are a Training Manager, save the cheer leading right now and learn how to do your job better. Start with reading my two books. Audit your own department, and then make a plan for changes. Review each program you train and make adjustments to remove pointless activities and replace them with purposeful learning that yield results. Present your plan to management when you return to work and show how you remained purposeful and focused during this at home time. Now is the time to heal thyself!

285671_D1L1_01 Pointless Training Cover

Your Training Manager Needs Serious Help!


omg

Your New Training Manager is not up to speed, lacks the basic competencies and is feeding you a line of bull that he knows what he is doing. Yet, with big initiatives on the table this year, you are allowing this person to blow everything up to avoid getting them help.

Maybe you were warned not to hire this guy, but you went ahead and did it anyhow. Okay, bad move, but it is done and now you need to fix the mistake and fast. Your pending merger requires a lot of new people to learn how to do things the way your company does it, but this guy still has yet to present a comprehensive plan on what needs to be included in the training. What are you waiting for?

You openly admit that the last merger was rough because people were not trained well, so you expect things to change because you hire a training officer. He has been on the job for a little over 5 months and his lack of experience is showing. These signs point to another disastrous merger that you could have prevented.

 

With less than 6 months to go, here is what I recommend:

 

  • Either Hire a Full Time Training Manager to build out the function and design a merger training plan or hire this guy a coach to build up his missing competencies quickly.

 

  • Demand a complete training plan for the new employees within 2 weeks

 

  • Set goals with dates that align with the merger goal posts

 

  • Demand a plan for the building of the corporate training function within 30 days.

 

  • Create a Training Budget with required resources to implement Training Plans

 

Hiring a trainer and promoting them to manager might have seemed like a noble venture, but strategically you shot yourself in the foot. You do have time to fix this hiring error, but things must happen soon or you are going to be paying dearly for months to come.

Get help before it is too late!  Contact Me at Jim@jkhopkinsconsulting.com

Fire Your Training Manager, Unless….


no training

If you have been reading this blog for a while, you know that I go on a tear whenever I have been witnessing incompetence too often. Lately it seems that I am finding more and more training managers and directors that are doing harm to their companies while they continue to cash a paycheck every two weeks. Not only are these individuals blackening the eye of good training professionals, they are what gives the industry a bad reputation.

Yet the real fault lies with the senior management team that doesn’t hold their training department to any standards of the profession or even productivity. So I thought it might be helpful to senior management to spell out what their training managers ought to be doing.

 

Fire Your Training Manager, Unless…….

  • They can produce an annual training plan that maps to the strategic needs of the company and/or the divisions they are responsible to support.

 

  • They can demonstrate their progress in following the annual training plan

 

  • They can demonstrate proof of how they benefit the company. How do they save the company money? How do the help the company make money? How do they keep the company in compliance?

 

  • They can show how they have solved a performance issue in the past year that the company needed to improve.

 

  • They can show you how they have engaged Senior Management into the learning process, or at least attempted to obtain management’s participation.

 

If you are not monitoring these items, and yet payroll is generating a paycheck to this training leader, you are probably not getting what you are paying for. And because this training manager no doubt reports to someone on the senior management team, they are making you look incompetent too for your lack of engagement.

I saw one company last year that decided to forgo the annual company catered holiday party because they were cutting expenses and encourage a Potluck lunch instead. Yet they keep the incompetent training manager employed sending a mixed message to staff.   Knowing this training manager, I would terminate them, throw a big apology party for the staff, and then go hire a competent replacement. Then again, I am often accused of walking my talk.

 

Our “Wing-It” Training Manager


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If there is one thing a real trainer hates to hear it’s, “Wing It”. To a trainer, this means little to no time to prepare, your best will have to do, but all hell will break out if you fail.

As a Training Manager, I never wanted my team to have to wing anything, but sometimes things pop up and we do have to pull things together at the last minute and pray it all works. Real professionals with the right skill sets and competencies can make it happen. Brand new learning professionals without prior experience to draw on will struggle and fall short in the end.

So tell me if you see any reason to have to wing it on any project where you have enough time to prepare? When the entire company knows about an upcoming acquisition of another company 10 months in advance, why are you operating without a training plan?

The new training manager was an excellent trainer at his last job, but lacks strategic experience, and is letting the COO decide when training should happen. Adult Learning Principles tell us that we learn best when we can immediately apply our new skills, so why would you train all the new people 6 months before they use a new system?

From my discussions, “training just needs to happen, it doesn’t matter when.” Even the training manager gave me a blank stare, when I asked them what the learning objectives for each role are, so I asked to see the training plan. A written training plan does not exist. So it is apparent they plan to “Wing-It” on purpose.

The CEO loves to give speeches about the future, and yet the poor guy is clueless as to how dysfunctional his teams are that will impact this acquisition. I’d love a board member to ask him for a copy of all the strategic plans for this acquisition. I’d also love to be a fly on the wall when he is unable to produce any plan for any process.

Will the acquisition go on as planned? Sure it will, because there is no plan! Will employees struggle and suffer? Yes they will, but management does not care, so why do I?