Whether you are working with a team of 5 or 500, training management is a complex task, but it doesn’t have to be difficult, or even time-consuming. The best training managers work smart and maximize the impact of their time with savvy training strategies. And who better to advise training managers than the Training Manager at CBT Nuggets?
We sat down with Sean Nelson to find out how he motivates, manages, and tracks training for our entire team.
How do you approach working with CBT Nuggets team members to help them define training goals?
First, I check in with our team leads to see what technologies and skills are necessary for their team’s success in the coming year. Those conversations give me a framework for planning each team’s training – I know what bases I need to cover.
Then I dive deep with each individual team member to determine their specific needs and interests.
Some of the most important questions I ask are:
- What are your day-to-day tasks? I learned early on not to assume I knew what the job entails.
- What projects are you currently working on or planning for? My goal is to illuminate skill gaps. If I know a project is coming up and they currently don’t have the skill set to manage it, their training plan has to address it.
- What training are you currently doing? I want to know if they are in the habit of training. If not, maybe they need basic training tips. A few simple training guidelines can have high-impact. I suggest they block time out when they know they will be alert (i.e. not after lunch or at the very end of the day), and find a place where they won’t be interrupted. Keith Barker summed our best training tips in a recent webinar.
- What skills would you like to develop or pursue? Passion is essential to effective learning, so this is the most important question. I ask them to consider their professional development goals and their interests outside of their main area of expertise. Most people haven’t thought about this, but they email me ten minutes after our meeting with a long list of skills they’d like to learn.
- What are the professional certifications that you currently hold that you need to maintain? Remember that many certifications require continuing education; maintaining relevant certs is a priority.
How do you motivate training? What’s the balance between setting clear training expectations and incentivizing training performance?
There are three parts to this process:
- Set Clear Expectations – We have specific time and topic training expectations for every employee.
- High-Level Buy-In – We are fortunate here in that our leadership sees training as an investment in the company’s success. Continual improvement is central to our mission statement. We allocate time and resources to allow people to learn, in every venue from individual training to attending or participating in conferences.
- Intrinsic Motivation – Using a stick to motivate training doesn’t work. Create a culture of training by making it a part of the workday. If you see people around you training and your boss is congratulating them for their efforts, you’ll feel good about taking the time to improve yourself.
How do you track training efforts?
I pull training reports weekly. And the categories I track are validated minutes, which courses team members are watching, and Transcender® Practice Exam reports. Many times, if a training tool is under-used, we can improve our communication about the benefits and availability of that feature.
I also look at validated minutes from our in-course quizzes, which tracks not only how much team members watch, but how effective that time has been. Lastly, I keep in mind that training participation is cyclical. If there’s a big push for a large project, or a series of holidays, there may be a training dip and that’s okay, as long as it’s not habitual.
CBT Nuggets has training needs for everyone on staff, from graphic designers to HR. When you have to look for outside training, what do you look for in a provider?
I read reviews online and sample the training myself if it’s available. Many training providers offer something akin to the CBT Nuggets free week. I also heavily rely on personal recommendations from team members, if someone in the field has vetted the product, I feel confident.
What are 5 simple things you do regularly to keep training programs running smoothly?
- Reporting – You have to know how well resources are being used, and determine whether established goals are being met from the training dashboard.
- Accountability Meetings – If someone falls behind in their training, I talk to them to figure out any roadblocks and help them navigate those challenges. In those meetings, I affirm that I’m their resource to help them get this benefit, even if that means having a conversation with their supervisor about adjusting their workload. For CBT Nuggets learners, you can rely on your training manager or Accountability Coach.
- Stay Organized – Use your calendar to remind yourself of regular tasks like pulling reports or evaluating a provider before renewal time.
- Keep a Resource Inventory – Know what services are available to your team.
- Do Your Own Training – If people see you putting your money where your mouth is, they are more likely to follow suit.
What’s the strangest area you’ve been asked to provide training support for?
I had a software engineer request to learn French, but it wasn’t relevant to his work in any way. There are plenty of languages we want our developers to learn, but foreign languages aren’t included. Maybe when we open a Paris office?
Whether you are a formal training manager or just the lead for a team in need of training, you can apply these lessons to your team training plan. Remember to start simple and keep both your business goals and the professional development goals of your team in mind. And if you need more help or inspiration, check out our Resources page for advice on planning and motivating team training.
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