Getting Off to a Good Start

By January 6, 2021LTEN Focus On Training

Getting Off to a Good Start

From the President – Richard Sampson

Nothing motivates more than a good goal.

The start of another year is upon us, and if we line things up, get started right and are ready for a great year, we’ll have given ourselves a nice gift.

The typical place to start is setting objectives, for yourself and your team. This is about what you need to do, what you want to do and what you should, ideally in that elusive perfect world, be doing. Stretch objectives give us something to aim for, and nothing motivates more than a good goal.

While we’re on the subject of objectives, don’t forget the personal ones. What are you doing to continue your professional growth? How are you making yourself more valuable? We spend so much time focusing on the careers of others; at least this one time a year, take some time to think about you, too. (I call it my selfish investment season.)

Of course, you’ll want to include a calendar for your annual pre-planning. As you work to support so many – the business, the individual lines, the learners, your colleagues and yourself – you have to plan around any special events in the year. National or regional meetings? Product launches? New indications? Be aware.

Now’s a good time to connect with your business units as well. Make sure you understand their objectives for the year and explore how training can help. Being proactive is one hallmark of a good partner. This “refresh” also gives us all the opportunity to reset any connections or stakeholder mapping cadences that may have gone awry over the past year.

Look on the far end of the sales process, too – customer needs. Getting a good sense of their challenges helps keep you connected and helps everyone serve their needs.  Again, it’s a good place for proactive planning.

Of course, all those “wish list” items ultimately lead to the review of resources. Do you have what you need to be successful? The right budget? Tools? People? Partners? Can you meet your objectives?

Now that you have all those boxes checked, take a last look around and ask yourself the hard questions, the big picture stuff. Some of these might lead to uncomfortable realizations, but it’s better you ask them before others do:

  • Are you resetting your engagement and involvement with your stakeholders?
  • Are you building a personal development plan or just filling in a template?
  • Are you looking at external customer data/benchmarking and focusing training on improving key elements?
  • Are you working with your training team to pressure-test how they are being perceived internally in your organization?
  • Etc., etc. – you know what needs to be asked. Ask it.

None of this is easy, by the way. Sorry, but it’s important. We’re coming out of a disruptive year and heading into what’s currently an unknown – that makes planning more difficult, but also more crucial.

Will your plan cover every eventuality? Well, did you have a global pandemic on your 2020 plan? Me neither. But planning gives us the tools, the awareness and the agility to pivot and turn when we have to. It’s why we plan.

Have a great year, everyone. As my kids would say, “You’ve got this.”


Richard Sampson is president of the LTEN Board of Directors and head of global
training for Cepheid. Email Richard at


About LTEN

The Life Sciences Trainers & Educators Network ( is the only global 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization specializing in meeting the needs of life sciences learning professionals. LTEN shares the knowledge of industry leaders, provides insight into new technologies, offers innovative solutions and communities of practice that grow careers and organizational capabilities. Founded in 1971, LTEN has grown to more than 3,200 individual members who work in pharmaceutical, biotech, medical device and diagnostic companies, and industry partners who support the life sciences training departments.

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