The people who work in training in many companies can become so focused on training the rest of the company that they never take advantage of training themselves. They become like the legendary cobbler who had no shoes – they make lots of wonderful things for other people, but keep none for themselves.
If that is the case, they miss out on many important opportunities. One is to lead by example, because training departments that live and breathe training cultivate a culture of training that energizes and transforms their entire organizations. And needless to say, when people engage in continuous learning, they become much better at their jobs.
Here are some positive steps you can take to get those good things to happen . . .
First, everyone in the training department should go through all the training that the department offers in the organization . . .
Remember that even though people produce your company’s training, that doesn’t’ mean they understand exactly what it is or how it works. If live training sessions are taking place, or eLearning, or onboarding, the people in your training department should attend and take part. That keeps them up-to-date on what your training department offers and sends a signal that learning is the lifeblood of your company.
Second, have everyone in the training department take part in group training every month . . .
Some form of training should be taking place within the training department on training skills like facilitation skills, instructional design, or how to use new software. Every month, there should be a training focus of the month – a central topic that keeps your learning focused.
Third, you should hold what Stephen R. Covey calls “sharpen the saw” meetings . . .
These are meetings, defined by the author Stephen R. Covey, as meetings where your team sharpens its skills. At Tortal Training for example, every three months we give everyone in our development and training department eight hours of independent time to look at new software, new training techniques, or other new skills. Then we have a team meeting where everyone shows off what they learned. This exposes everyone to new ideas in training, especially the training developers, who always learn new things.
When your trainers stay on top of new things, they stay excited about your company and they want to continue working for you. The atmosphere is buzzing, not boring.
Fourth, have a book club that reinforces the culture of training . . .
Every month or two, all your training personnel can read the same book and have a conversation about it. This is something that doesn’t have to be run by management. In fact, it can be run by anyone in your company. Let the members of the team pick the book they will read and discuss. This keeps training alive!
Fifth, allow everyone in your training department to select and take their own courses . . .
This is another activity we do at Tortal. We give people up to $2,000 a year to take any courses they want, provided those courses are about topics that will improve training skills. They could be seminars, online training events, anything that our team wants to access. If you do this, you will demonstrate that your company feels training is important and encourage employees to take part in continuing learning. You will improve retention and introduce a continuous flow of new ideas into your organization.
In summary . . .
Training departments can take the lead in building a culture of training. They should practice what they preach. They should value training as part of their culture and as part of their normal routine. Training will help them not only model what your enterprise should be, but will become a guiding light for everyone.
Following these guidelines will empower your training department with more knowledge to do a better job, to be more innovative, and to develop new ideas. You will also improve retention of people within the training department and within the entire enterprise.