Several months have passed since I have written on this blog. Where have I been and what was I doing? Let me tell you! In my current role, I am responsible for developing operations training for managers and leaders at all levels of the organization. In August, 2017, my manager asked me to determine how to skill managers on a new efficiency metric. The initial thought was a brief, online, self-guided training (SGT) module was all that learners would need. Little did I know that this SGT would lead to one of the most successful and rewarding professional efforts of my life.
To fully understand the new metric and the needs of the business, I joined a global project team. The primary goal of the project was to introduce the new metric and ensure that senior management knew how to effectively evaluate factors impacting the metric using a root-cause-analysis model. A secondary goal of the project was to help second-level managers translate the metric into behavioral conversations in order to help front-line managers coach employees on the behaviors that most impact business outcomes and customer satisfaction. We did not want managers coaching to a metric (number).
This may not sound like an exciting initiative, but it turned out to be one of the most fun, engaging projects I have worked on. Why? The reasons are many. One of the top reasons was that I was able to develop and deliver instructor-led training for a global audience. I worked with subject-matter experts (SMEs) in the business to create a learner experience that was engaging, interactive, relevant, and supported by senior and executive leadership.
Another reason this training initiative was so successful was that we took time after each delivery to discuss opportunities to get better and then immediately refined the content before delivering again. We also took time to refine the content for regional differences as we traveled the world (U.S., Ireland, Singapore, Tokyo). And finally, the learner response and acknowledgement was overwhelmingly positive. You don’t believe it was that great, well listen to what others had to say:
- “Invaluable experience. Donna and team made the 2 full days fly with their engaging way of presenting what is a complex and exciting new direction for how understands what drives our customer experiences.”
- “A fantastic event. I wish we could have more of this type of interactive training. Donna was amazing! It was a brilliant event! Thank you!”
- “This was great, Donna did a fantastic job moderating and facilitating the conference. Leadership team did an amazing job in putting all this together. This is a great opportunity and challenge I will begin with my Org. Thank you for everything.”
- “All presenters were well prepared, knowledgeable, and entertaining. Donna Thomas and [name] were especially entertaining for topics that otherwise may be a bit dry.”
So, what did I learn? I learned that how information is presented is just as important as the information itself. I discovered that there is a lot more to creating content for audiences outside the United States than translating from English to another language. I also learned how important it is to take time to get to know your audience and identify their expectations before you design and deliver training. Most importantly, I learned that for others to view me as a credible resource, I had to show subject-matter expertise as the facilitator. Fortunately for me, I was able to develop expertise and communicate with the audience in a way that kept them engaged throughout the training. And, a couple of corny jokes don’t hurt.
The results of this experience have lead me to believe that there is a need for more people like me in the organization. Learning and development professionals who can develop expertise in business software tools, reporting tools, and business practices, then create and deliver training at all levels of the organization. My personal goal is to build this dream team in my current organization and fill a much needed void in the business. Today, our managers are often left to figure things out on there own using SGTs, online resources, and their peers. What they would prefer is for someone they have confidence in to explain and demonstrate, followed by opportunities to gain practice and feedback.
Wish me luck!