The director of a corporate training department, responsible for technical, sales and sales support education for 20,000 employees, faced a crisis on two fronts. Her employees were under extreme strain from a heavy workload and internal stakeholders who were making unreasonable demands and treating her professional trainers as little more than order-takers. The credibility of the department and the trainers was damaged when leaders selected ill-advised training programs that delivered less than optimal results.
Compounding matters was the most recent of several corporate reorganizations that placed previously independent, experienced trainers under the umbrella of the corporate training department. Natural tensions between national and local offices were exacerbated by the reorganization which left everyone, including the department’s training professionals, uncertain about their place in the organization.
Something in the training department had to change, and change quickly, to reduce the annual 40% turnover rate in the department. Experienced staff applied for inter-company transfers or left the company for less hectic, more predictable surroundings.
HOW WE HELPED
After talking extensively with the training director it became clear to us that the department needed its own strategic plan to provide direction and structure. There was an immediate need to change the general perception of training employees as order-takers. We knew that if the corporate training game were to be changed, the training people had to change the way they played the game.
The first order of business was crafting a strategic plan for the department that aligned with the organization’s growth strategy. A Vision was crafted that painted a picture of what the department would look like when it matured into the enterprise-wide provider of all training solutions for product management, sales and sales support.
A Mission Statement was then crafted that outlined what the department would do for its internal clients, training department employees and vendors.
Strategic objectives were developed for the next year that would direct all activities toward fulfillment of major initiatives set forth by the area President and the department manager.
Once the department’s strategic plan was finalized, a one-day, skills development workshop was scheduled for all department employees. The objective of the workshop was to provide department trainers with a consistent process and tools for all internal engagements.
A successful solution required a change in the mindset of the training professionals. The results were immediate and dramatic. The group of trainers within the department who were targeted as prime beneficiaries of the new system adopted the concepts, process and the tools. Although the department’s workload remained high, employees reported much less stress, requests for personal-time-off days and mental health absences declined dramatically, and employee turnover in the department has been reduced by 90%.
The new process and tools provided trainers with a template, skill set and confidence to manage stakeholder engagements vs. simply taking orders. Trainers now take a proactive approach to preparing for all meetings.
They use a discovery process during interactions to uncover the real needs underlying training requests.
Solutions are then offered that the trainers are confident will produce the results leaders need.
The training department director reports a fundamental change in the mindset of her trainers. Now confident, and using a system to manage client engagements, the trainers have established much better relationships and enjoy much greater credibility at the executive level in key departments. They now meet regularly to craft training solutions with previously inaccessible leaders of the company’s national markets. The trainers are now perceived by these leaders as solution providers and trusted consultants who possess unique knowledge and a broad business perspective.