The First-Time Trainer

A Step-by-Step Quick Guide for Managers, Supervisors, and New Training Professionals

The First-Time Trainer

Author: Tom W. Goad
Pub Date: March 2010
Print Edition: $18.95
Print ISBN: 9780814415597
Page Count: 224
Format: Paper or Softback
Edition: Second Edition
e-Book ISBN: 9780814415689

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“Training now enables a country’s labor force to attain world-class productivity while still paying an emerging country’s wages for at least eight or ten years.”

—Peter Drucker, The Changing World Economy, 2002

Training has grown into one of the most critical requirements for success in a highly competitive global marketplace. The reasons are clear. Increased emphasis on human resources effectiveness, including such concepts as talent management, human capital, and human resources as an investment, is one. Worker skills must be continually updated. Diversity, workplace laws, shortages of skilled workers, persistent functional illiteracy, and intensive competition continue to influence, and often redefi ne, the way people work. Add the fact that technology alone causes constant workplace

change, and the spotlight falls brighter than ever on the trainer. As more and more managers, team leaders, professionals, and others are fi nding out, there comes a time when we must all function as trainers. Customers demand it, competition forces it, and employees need it to survive. Simply put, there’s greater need for training.

Sometimes there’s no formal training department, or the workload is too great even if there is one, or the requirement is so technical that the training department has no one who is qualified. The result is that many people are called upon to train. This may include people who have never trained before as well as professional trainers who fi nd their workload and level of competence stretched by the increased demand and highly technical subject matter.

The Purpose of This Book

Since you may be new to training or have had little opportunity to train, you’ll appreciate the singular purpose of this book: to serve as a clearly stated set of proven guidelines to use when you conduct training. These are the functions you’ll perform—no more or no less—to be a successful trainer. They’re the same whether they’re used for a once-in-a-lifetime performance or become something you’ll need for the rest of your career. (It’s more likely to be the latter, the way training continues to prove critical to the organizations it serves.) The session you’re called on to do may range across a wide spectrum of training, including:

• Giving your boss a fi fteen-minute overview and demonstration of a work project

• Offering a one-week training program that will allow your company to provide faster customer service

• Preparing a two-hour podcast session on implementing a new method of conducting performance appraisals

• Conducting a long-term program of converting your company from a traditional divisional organization with multiple layers to a matrix organization that emphasizes a team approach to projects

• Developing an online course for new supervisors to improve their verbal communication skills

• Appearing briefl y on the agenda of a planning committee to explain how you’re preparing to comply with new labor legislation

• Conducting a three-day workshop designed to bring in two hundred people who have never worked together to form a team to implement a new government contract

These represent but a few of the possible combinations. A common situation for some managers is that they must deal with all the above. Whatever the nature of the training, from brief presentations to full-blown, formal training courses, the principles are the same. It’s these success-driven principles that are laid down in this book in the form of eight steps—the eight steps to effective training. An important fact to bear in mind: They apply across the board, for all types of training using all forms of delivery, and in all types of organizations.

About Training

Let’s look at the purpose of training in today’s organizations—both for- and not-for-profi t—and why training continues to be so important.

The Purpose of Training

Training exists to facilitate the process of making organizations, and the people within them, more effective. For organizations to thrive, the function of training must be implemented to its fullest. Employee talent must be developed—and enhanced—to the greatest extent possible. Training must move and fl ow. It works best when it becomes an integral part of the organizational process, from strategic plannin g (e.g., including training as a fundamental part of ongoing organizational development) to reviewing the profi t and loss statement (e.g., measuring training’s effectiveness). Take the example mentioned earlier of giving your boss a fi fteen-minute overview and demonstration of a work project. Suppose the marketing team needs the input in order to start promoting the product, thus making the session, even if only a fifteen-minute one, of the utmost importance. (And sometimes you’re lucky to get that much time, making it all the more critical to do a good job.)

Why Training Is So Important

Information and knowledge drive most businesses, and often training is the only way the information and knowledge, and attendant skills, can be provided. It has become clearer than ever that those organizations that are succeeding in today’s marketplace are the ones that help their employees perform to their fullest potential. Tributes to the importance of training abound in the business news. Studies of successful organizations emphasize this fact by regularly showing how training has been key to companies’ making it to the top in their industries. Training’s reason for being is to make people more effective and therefore more valuable. The more knowledge and s ills employees have, the more effective the company is. And this holds true for nonprofi ts, too. The relationship is direct and clear. Check your own information sources and the latest business news, and you’ll realize that successful organizations most likely view training as an important part of the success equation. Some of the more important reasons for that include:

• Technology That Continues to Virtually Upgrade Itself. The people who implement technology must upgrade their skills to keep up with it. This is one of the greatest challenges facing everyone today, from the top to the bottom of organizations.

• Organizations That Have Become So-Called Learning Organizations. That means that the people in them must use training as one method of continuing the learning process, a process greatly facilitated by online, or electronic, learning. Things move so fast that we must constantly be on the alert to learn how to keep up and, for the few, to stay ahead.

• Team Orientation. Members of the work group must be crosstrained to perform one another’s jobs. Teams remain as strong as ever as a workplace approach to success.

• Fewer Workers to Pass Things Down to Because of Massive Downsizing. Unfortunately, the work itself doesn’t get downsized, just the number of people available to do it, which places a further workplace load on the survivors. Down-

sizing turmoil continues as the process keeps rolling along.

• Workplaces That Continue to Become yet More Complex. This isn’t so true in fast-growing job areas like fast food and service industries, but it is defi nitely so in professions that offer the best rewards. All indications are that this situation will


• Government Intervention in the Workplace. This is particularly true with respe ct to far-reaching laws that have an impact on work and workers. It applies from the federal level down through the local community. Occasionally a law specifi es that training be conducted.

• Functional Illiteracy and the Need to Train People in Job Basics, Particularly Entry-Level Ones. Estimates are that one in fi ve adults in the United States is functionally illiterate; these people lack basic reading, writing, speaking, computing, or decision-making skills.

• Multicultural Workplaces, Where Workers May Speak Many Languages Other Than English as Their First Language. This is an ongoing result of globalization, making it imperative that people who work together be able to communicate well.

•Multigenerational Workplaces, Where Workers Are Far Apart Not Only in Age but in Their Grasp of the Latest Technology. People simply don’t retire; older workers must learn to use new technology, and there may be differences in how they learn as well as in their motivation to do so. Many of these represent areas where you may be called upon as a

trainer. The training process can be highly formalized and long term or quite informal and brief. The key is that learners come out of the process with new or stronger skills. Whereas the purpose of developing an organization is to make it more effective, the act of developing its people and their talents through training is to make individuals more effective in achieving organization goals.

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