Seek Out Your Path: Become a Proactive Field Trainer
Trusting that you can make valuable contributions is the first step in realizing your potential.
Feature Story – By Chapin Brinegar
In my experience, the greatest challenges faced by field trainers usually stem from an imperfect understanding of their role.
I discovered this is primarily a top-down issue while facilitating a 2019 LTEN workshop focused on enhancing field training programs. As participants in the session discussed their own challenges and opportunities, it quickly became evident just how many organizations struggle to define the responsibilities of field trainers. As a result, their talents are often underutilized — a problem surely made worse by the pandemic, which has disrupted even long-established corporate training programs and initiatives.
At this point, you may be thinking, Th i s is absolutely a problem that I face. But what should I do about it? The answer, I believe, is to be proactive by taking charge of your role as a field trainer and seeking ways to contribute above and beyond your current level. To accomplish this, I suggest the following:
Give Yourself the Credit You Deserve
If you find yourself at loose ends in your field trainer role or feel you could be doing more, it’s easy to become discouraged, which can perpetuate inaction. To reverse this trend, remind yourself that you were selected for this position because management believes you have something to offer your colleagues.
I’m continually impressed with the intelligence, commitment and drive of field trainers. You’re a future leader of your organization. Trusting that you can make valuable contributions is the first step in realizing your potential as a field trainer.
Conduct a Self-Assessment
I’ve had the privilege of helping many clients develop and enhance their field training programs. Though each program was shaped to meet the unique needs of its organization, a common thread ran through them all: Field trainers serve as links between the learning and development (L&D) team and the sales team.
Take time to reflect on how you’ve been called upon as a field trainer to serve your organization. Make a list of your responsibilities. Rate your performance. Where have you succeeded? Where could you improve? Conducting this type of selfassessment can uncover needs and direct your actions.
Consider How Field Trainers Are Leveraged in Other Organizations
While every field training program is different, field trainers often hold similar responsibilities. These include:
- Supporting new hires through onboarding and new-hire training activities.
- Providing coaching to new hires and tenured peers.
- Serving as workshop/training facilitators or moderators.
- Assisting the L&D team with the development and execution of training programs.
- Working under the direction of the sales manager to ensure regional training needs are being met.
- Upholding company values and policies through all actions.
- Actively participating in key meetings, including regional meetings and national sales meetings.
- Serving as a subject matter expert (SME) on internal tools, processes and resources.
As you reflect on these responsibilities, note unmet needs in your organization.
Though it’s not incumbent on you as a field trainer to redefine your role, most training managers I’ve partnered with to enhance their field training programs actively seek new ways participants can add value. If you respectfully raise your ideas, you may be surprised at the results.
Reach out to your regional manager to discuss how you can best support the team, such as by assisting in the coaching of your peers, helping to onboard a new hire or sharing best practices on an upcoming team meeting. Your manager may even provide avenues to support the team that you hadn’t anticipated. Along with expanding your field trainer role, showing your manager that you’re open to helping in whatever way they need can forge a stronger working relationship that lasts long after your stint as a field trainer.
In addition to your manager, seek out your training team contact(s) to identify ways you can support L&D initiatives. These may include helping to create or review training materials, acting as an SME or facilitating an upcoming session. There is almost always something to be done, and you should feel empowered to create those opportunities for yourself.
As a field trainer, it’s probably safe to say you’re self-motivated. You took on this role to gain leadership and training experience as well as exposure to company initiatives outside of the role of the sales representative. If your field training experience isn’t living up to these expectations, don’t wait for a topdown solution. Take charge!
Remember, your field trainer role provides you with access to management and a unique opportunity to make an impact. Keeping in mind that most field trainer programs have one- or two-year term limits, what will you do with the time you have left in this role?
Chapin Brinegar is senior director of instructional design for Encompass Communications and Learning. Email Chapin at firstname.lastname@example.org.