Advice for the Training Department

Last week I wrote about The Training Department in the 21st Century, part of a presentation I will be giving in Toronto on Thursday. This new model that I propose, which has its roots in knowledge management and wirearchy, is an attempt to take the theory and make some practical recommendations for those who have to do the day to day work.

The model is centered on Connecting and Communicating to enable knowledge flow in the organisation and is based on three processes:

  1. Facilitating collaborative work and learning amongst workers (esp. as peers).
  2. Sensing patterns and helping to develop emergent work and learning practices.
  3. Working with management to develop appropriate tools and methods for the workplace.

Here are some specific recommendations that I’m putting forward for the “new” training department:

  • Be an active & continuous learner and engage in activities that take you out of your comfort zone, so that you know what it’s like to be a learner.
  • Be a lurker or a passive participant in relevant work-related communities (could be the lunch room) and LISTEN to what is being said.
  • Communicate what you observe to people around you, solicit their feedback and engage in meaningful conversations.
  • Continuously collect feedback from the workplace, not just after courses.
  • Make it easy to share information by simplifying & synthesizing issues that are important and relevant to fellow workers.

None of these require Web tools or techniques but they can all be enhanced by the Internet.

7 thoughts on “Advice for the Training Department”

  1. Excellent post, Harold. Too often, trainers see themselves as purveyors of knowledge, and forget to address their own learning journey. You know (short of the miraculous, as far as I know) if you keep pouring from a vessel without taking time to top it up, the vessel eventually runs dry and has nothing more to offer!

    Also too often, they see the training events and materials they provide as being the only resource available to staff. Some even feel threatened when staff members find alternative methods of upskilling. That’s too much of a burden to take on oneself/one’s department. Training departments should seek, support and encourage ways for people to get in touch with other people in the organisation. Identifying potential experts/superusers who can mentor/coach other users… and providing the people thus identified with a platform for mutual support and development.

    I would add to your last list that trainers should be on the alert to spot and nurture this kind of potential.

  2. MIght be useful for these new training department members to moonlight in line jobs, too, within their organization. It’s easier to notice stuff worthy of training intervention when you’re in the trenches.

  3. To piggyback on Jennifer’s comment, I have seen where new training staff are used to “secret shop” stores or branches (retail & banking). Since staff is not yet familiar with the new trainer, it is an excellent way for the new trainer to identify training needs, “know the audience,” understand the environment, etc. while also providing valuable feedback to the organization.


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