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A Blueprint for Your Future Professional Success in L&D

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Thu Aug 25 2016

A Blueprint for Your Future Professional Success in L&D
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Trainers’ roles are changing rapidly, and many new roles are currently being defined by the VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex, ambiguous) world in which we live. Whatever your title, you have one ultimate goal—to ensure that people gain knowledge or skills, or change attitudes, to improve their performance. ATD’s new Core 4 Conference is a great place to hone your skills and create a personal blueprint for your future.

Delivery and Design

New trainers start by delivering or designing knowledge and new skills. The traditional training delivery role remains the mainstay of the profession. ATD’s 2015 State of the Industry report states that 66 percent of learning hours available were delivered by an instructor in 2014. Fifty-one percent occurred in an instructor-led classroom, 10 percent utilized an online instructor, and 6 percent were led remotely by an instructor. 

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Training design is equally critical. Advances in technology present an incredible array of techniques to enhance training design. However, as ATD’s Instructional Design Now report states, designers may be “confounded by the number and complexity” of optional technology tools. This is an example of training’s VUCA world! 

Whether your role is delivery or design or a bit of both; whether you are concerned about facilitating in a classroom or online; or whether you are “confounded” by the evolving array of tools and techniques at your disposal as a designer, you will be most successful if you plant your feet firmly in a solid foundation. What do you need to know now to master your training role? What skills will best serve you today to prepare you for your next role in the profession?

Building Your Foundation

AT Core 4, I will present 10 key building blocks of knowledge, skills, and attitudes you need to ensure that you are ready for whatever professional role comes your way. You can build your way to a successful career in talent development by mastering these 10 building blocks. For example, whether you are focused on a classroom or an online event, you must juggle both content and process. 

Content. Whether you’re designing or delivering, you need to truly understand what others need to know about the topic. Get inside the topic and find out more than what’s offered in your trainer’s manual. Ask more questions of more people if you’re designing. Talk to subject matter experts, often called SMEs. Speak with supervisors to learn what performance change they desire. Ensure that the content is based on your organization’s needs. 

Process. Both design and delivery have methods that you will incorporate into your training task. Designers need to incorporate skills such as designing effective participant materials, incorporating adult learning principles, and selecting methods for perfect blended learning programs. Delivery methods incorporate skills such as facilitating group process, increasing participation, and managing disruptive participants. 

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So to what does a beginning trainer aspire? What is an example of a master trainer’s skill set? I believe one important foundational requirement is to exude a professional mindset. It means that you initiate every training event online or in a classroom with the firm belief that your learners know more than you. If you have this mindset, you will facilitate more than you deliver.

Facilitate More Than You Deliver

There are few times when straight delivery or lecture is required—perhaps when laws must be imparted word for word or when safety is an issue. But for the most part facilitating experiential activities and discussions lead to the same end: enhancing learning and improving performance. How can you do that?

Create discussion. Not just between you and the learners, but among the learners. Encourage the use of chat and breakout rooms in a virtual setting. 

  • Get opinions and ideas out in the open before you deliver your message. You may be surprised at how much "training" the learners can do for you. A virtual classroom can be an advantage here because polls can be anonymous.

  • Share personal experiences and stories to build rapport and trust.

  • Provide opportunities for participants to evaluate their own learning throughout the session. Examples include a self-scoring quiz, an online multiple-choice quiz, or a true-false quiz in a poll where all responses are combined.

  • Create experiential learning activities in which participants discover the information or skills on their own. 

You have many ways to ensure participation. Mostly it comes down to your mindset and your reaction to the participants and their learning situation. How do you react to ensure an environment that encourages the best opportunities for participation? How do you react to create the best learning experience? The REACT mnemonic helps you remember the basics for encouraging participation:

  • Relax and establish an informal atmosphere.

  • Encourage participants to take control of their own learning.

  • Accept participants where they are.

  • Communicate openly and honestly.

  • Tap participants for their ideas. 

Talent development is an exciting and rewarding profession. Your role is expanding—and the expansion goes way beyond your job title. Having your feet firmly planted on a solid training foundation today ensures your relevance for tomorrow. There are many things you can’t glean from a book that you can learn during discussions with your colleagues. 

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I hope you will join me and other master trainers at ATD’s Core 4 Conference to continue this discussion to create a blueprint for your future professional success.

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