Expanding The Training Team

With all the economic cutbacks hitting the training function and yet the need for training staff increasing, training leaders are now getting creative in looking for their human resources.  From rotational roles to tapping the line for talent, you can expand your training team without having to hire new employees.

Having experienced managers facilitate Leadership Training is a value added experience for the learner, and it saves the cost of hiring a management trainer.  The concept of taking talent from the line, and training then to facilitate a program or one workshop has been going on for decades, and yet we often forget that this subject matter expert will gain from the experience of being a trainer just as much as the participants will gain from having a trainer that performs these skills daily.

In addition to tapping existing people to facilitate for you once in a while, you can create (design) training programs, and proof read materials or online pages quicker when you solicit a line person or subject matter expert to help.  They design some of the most real life role plays and scenarios, and can often write some practical questions for your quizzes too.

When you do need to expand your training team beyond the talents within your company, managers should consider hiring contractors and consultants more than they do, as they provide quicker project completion, experienced talent, and if you negotiate with them often a project price rather than an hourly rate.

These are some of the ideas that come to mind for me as I write, what else are you doing when the need to expand the training team does not include hiring full-time employees?

2013 Professional Development

As any reader of The Training Physical will tell you, I have always made a point of emphasizing the importance of professional development for the team members in the training department.  I believe the training manager should be responsible to develop their staff and plan annually for what each person will be learning.

I took an unplanned professional development exercise last week with the upgrade of a new PC, and current windows software.  Although I am thrilled with the new equipment and changes in familiar software, I was not feeling 100% comfortable with setting up my new PC and transferring everything from the old PC.  Friends and family will tell you that although I enjoy technology, I am not an IT person.  As a self-employed person I so miss having a “help desk” to call for help.

Yet, throughout the week I realized that upgrading the equipment and software was only half of the upgrade.  I was upgrading my skills at the same time, and while not directly related to the training field, it was a part of my personal and professional development that needed, gads, was over due for an upgrade.

So while I think it is important that the training manager is responsible for developing their staff, I also think it is important that the staff is looking at their own development and taking the responsibility to kick up their skill set each year.  What are you over due in learning?  What is a current process that you should learn more about?

Classroom trainers should be learning virtual delivery skills.  Instructional designers that have spent countless hours developing classroom workshops and self-paced eLearning should be learning how to design for the virtual classroom and mobile learning formats.  Training managers that are not involved in succession planning, talent management and basic organizational development should get on board with all of these processes.

So what are you planning to develop in yourself this year?

Focusing Training On Making A Difference

Over the holidays I had more than a couple of people ask me what the training department should be focusing on in 2013.  While there are trends that are widely published for what many companies are preparing to do, I responded each time with a question about what will impact their company the most.

While management and leadership training is getting more and more attention each year and interpersonal skills for all staff training is one of my personal favorites to implement, these associates were really asking about what they could do to make a difference this year.

The entire training team, not just the manager, should be aware of the direction the company is taking this year.  Hopefully someone was taking notes during those end of the year speeches where executives talk about not only the successes of 2012, but the direction and plans for 2013.

If training wants to make a difference, they should be focusing on how to make sure that employees can deliver on the big goals this year!

Let’s say a division of the company is planning a sizeable growth in new employees, and for our example let’s make it a 1000 new hires.  Not only will each of them need a strong orientation to the company, but learning plans that meet the gap in what they already can do and what they will need to do for your company.  Mentors and on-the-job trainers may be part of the learning solution, but this takes time to coordinate.  And how quickly all 1000 new hires are expected to be on board can make a difference in your plans.

Another side outcome of a whole bunch of new employees is that the existing number of managers will not be enough to handle another 1000 employees.  Where are the new managers coming from?  Are you promoting subject matter experts that have not been trained in management communication skills?

Another announcement you won’t want to miss is your company is planning to launch a new computer system or upgrade on an existing system.  Where will training be needed?  Will training be ready in time?

One of the biggest unknowns for training is when an announcement was made “that we are acquiring another company this year that will double our employee count.”   And how often is training personnel included in the due diligence to see what kind of training processes are in place at the other company?  I guarantee your plans will be different depending on what the other team is doing.

If you are reading this as I write, we are at the very beginning of the year, so unless you have a 1st quarter goal yet to be uncovered you still have time to be prepared.  Having everyone in the training department with open ears for news keeps the function current and prepared to make a difference.  If you are always waiting for management to come to you chances are you are going to severely shorten the time you have to prepare.

Every year should be a reason to make a difference.  It is a great feeling to know your impact on the organization’s ability to engage.  Make 2013 another year that the company is grateful they have a training function!

Exercise Your Skills

At this time of year many people are focused on their New Year’s Resolutions, and the top two are usually “Diet” and “Exercise.”  They remain the top because we often don’t stick with them long and by the end of the year we are in worse shape than we are now.

So with this particular resolution in mind, I would like to suggest that we in the learning profession would be wise to acknowledge that when it comes to exercising in general, many give up on this activity way beyond the gym environment.

Our role in training is often to create learning environments, and energy around keeping our skills current and in shape.  I am calling this exercising our skills.

In some of us we are in great shape, and just need a place to stay current and have access to information when needed.

In others of us, we are inspired to learn, but may not be focused on the best activities so we are not achieving our desired results.

Then there are those of us that are pretty much starting from scratch.  We look at our learning path and it goes straight up, and the task of completing everything looks overwhelming.  We don’t know how to access courses, or navigate the equipment / technology to complete training.

As learning leaders we are supposed to be like the physical trainers at the gym.  We know what is available, and how it should be applied to each of our employees needs.  We need to demonstrate through personal application, and walk our talk.  No one is too impressed with an overweight personal trainer at the gym anymore than they are with a corporate trainer that can’t access a simple online class.

So while making your list of New Year’s Resolutions, please consider adding “Exercise Your Skills” to the list.  Make it a point to create a learning development plan for yourself and your staff.  Engage with the training department and let’s make 2013 the year we all get into better shape.