By Nick Fifield
For me, training has always been both a passion and a vocation. Ever since 2003, when I attended my first training course to become a pharma sales rep, I knew I wanted to be a trainer.
For others, it is a worthy route to future opportunities, a rich training ground, one that can lead to several senior roles within an organization. There are the obvious skills it helps refine:
• Presentation & communication skills
• Event management
• Creativity & innovation
• Leadership & management abilities
Then perhaps the less obvious:
• Planning & logistics
• Tracking & reporting
• Strategic business planning
• IT & systems management
I’ve begun several new training roles throughout my career: First in 2008, working across Europe in recruitment, then pharmaceuticals with Roche, before moving to Australia and working for Zimmer Biomet in a solo training role. Finally, I worked with Johnson & Johnson in a matrixed commercial education environment, in both national and regional roles. I now run an independent training consultancy in New Zealand with a focus on the medical device and biotechnology sectors.
Here are my 5 top tips for developing in a training position, whether working alone or as part of a wider team;
1. Passion & Purpose: Whatever your reasons for taking the role, you can’t do this job without true passion and purpose. When you are delivering training, you must be authentic and vulnerable, you must believe in what you are communicating. You cannot fake it and you cannot hide. You have to care, and you have to love doing the job in the moment every day.
2. Learning & Crafting: Never forget, it’s never about you, it’s always about your learners. Every decision you make or idea you evolve has to have the learners in mind first and foremost. Make training your craft. It’s not only about everything you know, it’s about how you deliver that information, to who and in what context.
3. Network & Influence: Training departments are never set up the same, they may be under HR, sales & marketing or standalone. Training is always a cross-functional role, a major cog in the mechanics of a business, holding those departments together. They all have different views on how training should be prioritized and delivered. A major part of the role is managing those relationships, communicating strategy and keeping everyone happy. Hold regular meetings, formal and informal to build a broad support network.
4. Challenge & Innovate: Training should always be a pressure group for change. As with any new role, in terms or process and possibilities, a new set of eyes can see things very differently. It also occupies a unique position between sales teams and management, so has a unique perspective on what’s really going on, how strategy is being implemented and the perception of leadership effectiveness from the ground. Training should also never remain the same, changing with each delivery, each piece of feedback and the needs of the learners. Use different methods and technologies to communicate your message.
5. Develop & Improve: Learn about learning. No one is the finished product, every course, every presentation, every moment is an opportunity to learn and get better. You have to drive your own development, take a course and fund it yourself. Actively engage in developing the skills you need, this is much easier now with the access to resources online and beyond. Look outside the square, take an acting class, join a Toastmasters group, vary your exposure to develop the key skills you need.
Nick Fifield is director of Flux Capacity. Email Nick at firstname.lastname@example.org.