Early into my career in training development, one of my best mentors and my training manager at the time told me that trainers never stop learning. Much like the craft of acting, she said that real trainers keep looking for ways to improve their adult learning skills. She also grouped all training roles whether it was a facilitator, instructional designer, manager or consultant into the category of trainer. For over 20 years I have endorsed the concept, and seen it proved out in my interactions with other training professionals.
By far the most successful training professionals are both life-long learners AND are open to networking with other training professionals for ideas and feedback on what they are working on at any given moment. On the flip side, some of the most ineffective training professionals are those that are done learning, can’t see the value in networking with others and, well, have already arrived at the pinnacle of their potential.
We have a lot of new training managers in the workforce that may have been a facilitator in a single competency at one time, and are now leading the entire learning function. Some don’t have even that much connection to training, but had the inside track to get hired into the role. Many know they are lucky to have gotten the job over more qualified applicants, but I am finding their learning attitudes are making all the difference in their actual success.
I seek out new training managers, because if I can save them costly errors up front, not only will they become successful, but ultimately they will retain their jobs and careers in training. I usually offer a brief call where they can lay out their plans, and discuss their challenges. I offer this free brainstorming call as a way to determine if I am talking with a real trainer or an imposter.
Accepting this call with me is my first signal that they are a possible learner, and the length of the call tells me for sure if they are open to ideas other than their own. On the flip side, when they won’t even take 30 minutes to talk, they are hiding behind their insecurities and are going to be struggling.
Most people who meet me soon learn that I wrote the book called The Training Physical: Diagnose, Treat and Cure Your Training Department. Actually I have it plastered on almost everything I do, so it is hard to miss. The author status helps to create credibility, but it also sends a rather clear message that I can smell a fake a mile away. Senior Leaders love this, but training managers that want to remain anonymous really try to avoid talking with me.
Recently I talked with an experienced manager who I think is just fabulous and gifted. I also talked with a brand new training manager that had been an executive assistant and was just wide open trying to quickly learn everything she could. And in the same week I read the 4th email from a new and inexperienced training manager tell me there was no need to talk, that everything was under control. I guess two out of three is not too bad, but my mission is to make sure all trainers are the real deal!