Fierce is excited to share with you the first half of an article written by our Senior Vice President of Training and Product Development, Aimee Windmiller-Wood. The piece first appeared yesterday on the Training Magazine website, to read the full the article click here.
One learning and development professional’s journey as a trainer and tips on the importance of investing in your own learning and development.
I am a lifelong learner, as many of us drawn to the training profession are. When you are responsible for training and developing others, it is vital that you continue to invest in your own learning and development. In my journey as a trainer, I’ve continuously learned and honed many skills that have positively affected both my career and the careers of others.
When I landed my first job in training as manager of Stores Learning and Development at Macy’s Northwest, I knew I was “home.” I was certain this would be a fairly easy job for me and a natural fit. My wake-up call came during my second week on the job. I was asked to observe an outside vendor/trainer for experience. She ran out of content with two hours left to go and turned to me as she put the class on a 15-minute break, saying, “I am sure you can fill the remaining time with something wonderful.”
I had nothing. I was new. My bag of tricks was empty. This was the first time I realized how much I had to learn and how little I knew. I had 15 minutes to come up with two hours of content. I had to think fast.
That’s when I came up with a method I continue to use to this day. Out of desperation, I asked myself, “What would I want to have happen if I were a learner here? What have I been frustrated with in the past in courses I have taken? What would be a value add for my participants?” I put myself in the learner’s shoes. By answering these questions, I quickly decided to facilitate table discussions that aligned with the content provided earlier that day, followed with an exercise to create action plans for overcoming, fixing, or eliminating some of their identified issues. We filled the remaining two hours, and it was clear to me that not only had participants learned something, they had actively and meaningfully engaged those skills, cementing that knowledge. I also had learned something about myself—that I was capable of learning “on the fly” and putting still-evolving knowledge and skills to work in a positive way.
What did I learn in this first anxiety-ridden experience?
- People love sharing their experiences.
- Self-generated insight is not created by the facilitator doing all the talking.
- The best learning happens when people connect personal experiences directly to what is being taught.
- I don’t have to know everything in order to create a learning experience.
Because of this experience, I quickly got down to the business of learning about learning. Thankfully, there are ample resources available that help expand our knowledge, give us practical experience, and help us learn from each other. Many of those resources are free.