How Trainers Needs to Adapt to the New Business Environment

2 May 2013
Comments: 6
2 May 2013, Comments: 6

Firstly thank you to everyone who has sent comments in, and we will be answering these on the blog.  Please send you questions in now by commenting on the blog, emailing or tweeting us – just use the share buttons at the bottom.

The first part of our book is titled “Training: Adapt or Die” and we believe that the role of ‘Training Manager’ is an endangered one.  Read on to find out why, and we will be giving away a FREE copy of the FT Guide to Business Training to a randomly chosen person who comments, emails or tweets  in response to this post.

It is often only when you look back that you can easily discern the changes that have taken place over a period of time. Whilst ‘change’ is often talked about and, we believe, an ever present aspect of business and our role within it, we need to consider what we need to focus on in order to survive and succeed in a market that is already over supplied.

But what does ‘adapting’ mean in your context? What should your priorities be as you look at your role in the business?

Our strong sense is that your focus should be on building employee capability. Sound obvious? Well, in practice we think it can be a challenge to keep this focus and deliver on it. Why is this?

Business trainers – both in-house and those selling their training services to an organisation – are under pressure to say ‘yes’ to their clients. Clients often have a presenting need and they see training as the answer. But clients are often experts in their own functional role and not in how to create behaviour change. They can see training as the solution but not embrace their part and that of the wider ‘system’ in bringing about sustainable change. It is often these same clients who will be the first to criticise when change does not occur.

For the ‘Training Manager’ to survive and succeed, you need to be seen by the business as performance experts. This requires you bringing challenge to the business and raising the issues you know will stand in the way of learning transfer. To what extent:

  • Are you bringing challenge to the business to ensure you are training the right knowledge, skills and behaviours?
  • Do you discuss the wider issues and factors that will contribute to learning transfer?
  • Do you surface and discuss the existing habits and motivations that affect participants’ application of the learning?

If you look at your role as developing capability rather than delivering training there are some clear differences:

Delivering   Training

Building   Capability

  • Focuses on content, curriculum and ‘pleasing the customer’.
  • Individual responsibility lies with the performer (naivety)
  • Is inductive
  • Line manager & L&D involvement
  • Focuses on business needs and learning transfer.
  • Collective responsibility (honesty)
  •  Is deductive
  • ‘C Suite’ involvement & sponsorship

We believe that C Suite executives will engage in conversations around capability and performance in a way that they will not engage in conversations around training. To have a seat at the top table, we need to be seen as capability and performance experts and that means bringing challenge to ensure that what is learnt in any training is transferred to the work environment.

You can find out more by buying the FT Guide to Business Training from Amazon, The Book Depository and all good book stores.  Please share this now with any colleagues using the buttons below, and don’t forget to join us again at 11am for some video content about learning styles!


6 responses on “How Trainers Needs to Adapt to the New Business Environment

  1. Really enjoying the book. A great reminder, refersher and enhancer to my work as trainer and presenter.
    Wondered if you could answer the following – do you have 3 tips to maintain a groups interest during a dry session on action planning – working out specific actions to implement change as a result of a workshop?


    • Jerry says:

      Hi Cris – delighted that you are already into the book. Its a good question and I will restrict myself to answering your specific question which means I just have 3 tips to offer:
      1. If you as a trainer consider action planning to be a dry element then there is a good chance that you will infuse your participants with your own dryness, so of course its a mind set thing as a trainer
      2. Flag up action planning as part of your framing at the beginning of the training. For example, some of you will probably know that Einstein’s definition of madness was continuing to do the same thing and expecting to get a different result. So if you want to get better at (presenting/negotiation/selling/etc) you are going to have to do things differently. So ensure throughout this session that you note down the things that you want to change and improve and then you can weave those elements into the action plan at the end of the day
      3. Make the action planning fun, interactive and interesting. For example, get participants to work in pairs and ask each other questions rather than make it an individual exercise. Also make sure that you set aside more time than most trainers do for the action planning and have a final plenary session in which the participants commit verbally to making at least 3 changes to the way they do things. Another example of being creative is what we did for an open programme on 1st March on Influencing, where we asked people to write down on a postcard the 3 things they were going prioritise and commit to as a result of attending our session. We then took the cards from them and posted them back to each individual after 3 weeks.
      I hope this gives you a few ideas to make your action planning juicy rather than dry! Jerry

  2. Vicky Shipton says:

    Business Training is an excellent book. I’m really enjoying it but I have two questions.
    What is the most common mistake of a bad trainer? How do I spot my own bad habits?

    • Tom says:

      Hi Vicky, Another great question and one that is at the heart of your effectiveness. I guess one of the key things to say is that self-awareness as a trainer is absolutely critical to avoiding mistakes. You will be ‘infected’ by your preferences and so getting feedback and engaging in self-reflection is critical. For example, we have already talked about learning styles today and you will have your own learning style preferences. So one mistake is to play to those preferences and not to others. Another mistake is to make assumptions about the learners or the learning that might limit you or the participants.
      The best way to spot your mistakes is to seek feedback (and treat it as a gift!) and constantly reflect on your own performance by asking yourself questions such as “What did I do well?”, “What would I do differently next time?” and “what have I learnt from this about myself and how I train?”.
      Hope that helps.

  3. Steve Jackson says:

    What is the way of using case studies in business training? I look forward to your reply.

    • Jerry says:

      Hi Steve I do have what is perhaps a controversial belief here. I think case studies are often used inappropriately in business training. Many have accepted that just because they are not at Harvard they must be the right thing to do. I have only occasionally seen them being delivered competently. Too often they are an academic exercise which is more about retention and intellectual jousting. The best way to use them in my view is as a springboard to practical application based on real life business contexts. I accept the fact that, especially in professional services firms, participants can be more inductive rather than deductive reasoners and so like the idea of case studies. The balance often though is skewed and too much time is wasted. I often leave thinking so what when I have been taught using a case. Just a personal view and there may well be advocates out there. Come on – defend case study teaching!!

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