Flying Solo as a Training Team of One
“Woa…cool the motor dude. Let us see what Squirt does flying solo”. – Crush, the father sea turtle in Finding Nemo
It’s one of my favorite scenes from Disney’s Finding Nemo. If you don’t remember it, or never saw the movie, Disney has the clip here.
Some people might consider owning the responsibility of training as a burden, and others will naturally embrace it. But no matter how you feel about it, the job was given to you for a reason. You’ve either proven yourself as a quick study in the past, or management is using this as an opportunity to “see what [you] do flying solo” with a new project. And with a few quick tips you will be on your way to saying, “THAT was AWESOME!” just like little Squirt.
Why is Training Necessary?
Without a solid understanding of this basic question, you are likely to encounter endless frustrations. The reality is that a senior level executive had a very good reason for creating your new role. And you must find out exactly what s/he expects from you. It may be as easy as needing to get a handle on compliance training which will keep the business out of legal trouble. Or it might be that customer training is needed to reduce support calls. Or it may be seen as another product for generating revenue. Or all of those reasons…and more. Management will no doubt be interested in all of these benefits, but there is always ONE particular reason that made your new role necessary to someone else’s success. Understanding the expected outcome will give you direction and purpose. And that will ultimately lead to your success.
Find the A-Players
You will need help. A large part of your job will be engaging others, influencing, recruiting, and managing employees over whom you have no authority. You want the A-players. The employees that hustle. They are interested in high visibility projects and are most likely already doing training work at some level because they need others to be knowledgeable as well. Sharing knowledge is critical to the success of all organizations and everyone knows it. They will all be very relieved that someone, YOU, is now responsible for making it happen. Your job is to help them understand that their help is still required. You must sell them on the benefits and rewards of working with you on this mission. And as you begin to meet and engage employees from all departments, it will begin to become very obvious who the A-players are. Nurture those relationships and do everything you can to make their lives easier giving them as little extra work as possible. These A-players will be your key resources and they their work for you will be secondary to their current roles, so be mindful of their time, and always be grateful for whatever they do for you… no matter how little.
Automate the Administrative Functions
The same manager that created your job will most likely also anticipate the need for a learning management system (LMS). The LMS industry has changed significantly over the last 10 years and this may or may not play in your favor. You need to know where your decision maker stands on this point as well. Your management may not be aware of how little it costs to get an LMS up and running in the 21st century. 20th Century enterprise solutions were expensive with very long implementation time lines. This is where you begin to prove your worth and gain the respect of management for allowing you to fly solo on this project. By starting up an SaaS LMS, you can show significant progress in days instead of months. In some cases, depending on your skills, with a user-friendly LMS like Litmos you can have courses up and running by the end of the day. An LMS like Litmos makes user notifications, reminders, and other administrative communications automated based on your needs. Like other automation systems an LMS like Litmos automates many of the tedious, repetitive, and resource intensive administrative chores of the training function. This is what makes it possible for your job to exist, and what will make you look like a hero.
Build and Engage Your Personal Learning Network(PLN)
Flying solo can be lonely and scary at times. But you are not alone. The internet has given us the ability, via social media, to connect with hundreds, and even thousands, of like minded professionals. You will likely need the support of others outside of your organization. Others have already experienced what you are going through and they can help you be successful. For example, Lisa Goldstein is part of my PLN. She is a Senior Learning Consultant and has experienced “flying solo” in her career, as well as speaking extensively on the subject. On very short notice, she offered me some excellent points similar to the ones I’ve made above:
“#1 was seriously PLN. I had to know everything about everything to run everything from design to deployment. A lot for one person’s brain.
#2 was give parts of your job away as gifts. That means, find people you can assign busy work to if you are “only one human”.
#3 Automate. As much as possible.”
Lisa was also kind enough to agree to an interview. We will go much deeper into how she not only survived, but thrived as a training team of one. Although I’m not sure she’d say, “That was AWESOME!” But I know it was quite a learning experience for her. Keep an eye out for that interview coming soon.