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"When you are in the middle of a story, it isn’t a story at all, but only a confusion; a dark roaring, a blindness, a wreckage of shattered glass and splintered wood; like a house in a whirlwind… " - Margaret Atwood
Life feels a little like this right now, yes? Confusion. Shattered glass and splintered wood. A whirlwind, to be sure. What do we most need at such times? Well, many things, to be sure; but chief among them is the training department, training leaders, trainers themselves.
Yes, I’m biased, given that I work for a training company. Still, my 2+ year chronology with Fierce, not to mention decades of previous experience, has proven this again and again.
I’ve heard our clients name the costs of training that have been less-than-viable or nonexistent. I’ve had the honor of training our content myself (and witnessing its subsequent results). And I’ve talked with countless individuals in training departments who know and long for the difference that strong, relevant training makes…now, more than ever before.
And as a training leader, because this is what’s most needed, I feel the responsibility to make sure that this is what’s being provided.
Today, as so many businesses are scrambling to make sense of COVID-19 and its impact on their bottom line, the skill, competency, and confidence of employees matter more than ever before.
The capacity to have conversations and communicate effectively matters more than ever before. And correct me if I’m wrong, but that is exactly what trainers, training departments, and training leaders are all about!
Multiple times over the past few weeks I’ve heard Fierce’s president, Stacey Engle, name that any and every issue that existed within companies before the coronavirus hit – dysfunction, silos, lack of collaboration and accountability, relationship issues, avoided conversations – is now exacerbated exponentially.
When we are under stress, managing rapid change, and spinning more plates than we know what to do with, those pesky problems we may have been willing to let sit on the back burner are now taking center stage. And generating heat!
Training is of critical value right now. You are!
This is an opportune (NOT opportunistic) time for training professionals to step up and lead. Your front-line understanding of where and how employees are struggling is information and context that senior leadership urgently needs to be made aware of.
Your pulse on what is happening (and not happening) right now could be what makes the difference between success, barely holding on, or far less-than in the weeks and months to come. I do not say any of this to be depressing, but rather, to encourage!
Now, more than ever before, your perspective, opinion, and expertise as a training professional matters. Your proven ability to read between the lines, understand organizational gaps and fill them with viable, relevant, and meaningful learning has measurable strategic impact.
Let’s look at your ROI, specifically.
A recent post on The HR Exchange Network said that according to LinkedIn, nearly a quarter of Millennials and Generation Z workers name learning as the top item that contributes to their work happiness and more than a quarter of them would leave their job if they did not see a chance to learn and develop (and all this before COVID-19 and working remotely)!
The article went on to list seven more pieces of data that “prove” the ROI of training. All are worth reading, but these three seem particularly relevant, especially today:
So, what are some ways in which you, as a training professional, can maximize your voice, “presence,” and yes, your value, during this time? A few thoughts:
At Fierce, one of our guiding principles is Obey your Instincts©. Listen to your gut, your heart, your brilliant mind. Then seek an audience with those who need to hear what you have to say (whether they know it, or not).
What have you implemented successfully up to this point? Which aspect of your employee onboarding or high-potential leadership program would be most applicable for your people right now? Re-package and re-purpose that content. Send out encouraging emails. Remind people of what they already know, but might just forget in the stress of current days.
Though it feels tenuous to consider spending dollars on more training right now, it’s exactly the time to do it, IF you choose content that will speak to exactly where and how your people are struggling. Make the business case. Anticipate what it will “cost” if you don’t invest. Then go back to my first thought above and have the conversation(s) needed.
Despite the understandable inclination to play it safe during such times, this is NOT that time. This is the time to step up, speak up, and innovate in ways that are brave and strong and consistent with who you always have been. I’m sure of it!
Let me finish up where we started – with words from author Margaret Atwood, by way of Dr. Brene Brown in Daring Greatly (which, if it weren’t for the fact that this is her book, would be the title of this blog post):
"When you are in the middle of a story, it isn’t a story at all, but only a confusion; a dark roaring, a blindness, a wreckage of shattered glass and splintered wood; like a house in a whirlwind, or else a boat crushed by the icebergs or swept over the rapids, and all aboard are powerless to stop it. It’s only afterward that it becomes anything like a story at all. When you are telling it, to yourself or to someone else."
Be the calm in this storm — a quiet center in the midst of the “dark roaring.” Stand strong in your value, expertise, and smart+heart as a training professional – and all of this on behalf of your employees’ ongoing learning and support. Where and how can you step forward and lead – always and especially now? How can you lean into both your competency and your confidence to provide what is most needed right now? What IS the story you will yet tell?