5 Training Tips to Help You Love Your Instructional Design Job
Hi, I am Shawntay Michelle, the Trainologist! Today, I am going to share 5 Training Tips to help you develop the right mindset towards your Training or Instructional Design job.
Create Your Mindset
The right mindset can make the difference between loving and hating your job.
Over the years, I have had to work on my mindset often to keep positive about my role and some of the managers I have worked for. A couple of them were just awful. I loved my work and my team so I had to continuously work on my mindset to stay happy in my role and be a good source of energy for my team. In fact, I had to work on my personal mindset just to put myself out there as a blogger and share my 5 Training Tips. Putting yourself out there can be a bit scary.
Why might it be scary? It’s was scary for me because I had a bit of negative self-talk. That negative talk sounded like, “what if they don’t like what I have to share about my 5 Training Tips, what if I let them down, what if they don’t like me in general, what if I fail, what if..what if…what if”.
After coming up with every negative “what if” I could imagine, I made a conscious choice to shut off the negative “what if” mindset. Instead, I chose to focus on the positive “what if”. The positive “what if” mindset sounds a lot better. It sounds like, “What if they do like the 5 Training Tips, what if I can contribute something valuable, what if I can help someone?”
Get the Real Talk
As you can probably tell already, I am very passionate about designing quality training experiences. I want to share my passion with you. Together, we can maximize human potential by building quality training courses. Let’s be friends!
As your friend, I will give you the real talk. We will talk about instructional design, training development, and managing training projects starting with my 5 Training Tips below. What you won’t get is the academic talk or best practices that come out of a textbook, at least not without a real-world application.
Not to say that the academic or textual readings on the topic are wrong because they aren’t. In fact, I did study Training and Development. Heck, I earned a Master of Science degree in Training and Development.
While my education experience was great, there just isn’t much that can substitute real-world application. And, that my friend, is what I want to share with you through this blog, my freebies, and my courses. The real deal, real-world application of all things training and development.
What do ya think? Interested?
Before you answer and before we get to the 5 Training Tips, let me get personal with ya and tell you a little about me.
Who is this Self-Proclaimed Training Expert?
As a kid, I didn’t dream of growing up to be a training designer or developer. I dreamt of being a lawyer like many other kids. Even once I went to college, I never thought I would be an educator or a designer of any type of education. I mean, I was terrified of speaking in front of groups so how could this career path have ever been a consideration for me?
I was seriously scared. In fact, I was so scared that in one of my jobs, I froze during on-the-job training with two customers, and the trainer, Josetta, my trainer, had to jump in and speak for me!
Fast track 17 years later, and I have been a teacher, an adjunct professor, an instructional designer, a trainer, a presenter, and a training leader. I can hardly believe it based on where I started. I am so glad that I faced my fears and dove headfirst into project management, education, and training.
While it is true I never went to college with the dream of becoming an educator or a trainer, it is also true that I have always been a trainer.
Where did I start?
Going all the way back to high school and my first job as a cashier, I trained others at the grocery store I worked in. In college, I waited tables, and I trained new servers. I even opened new restaurant locations and trained the local staff, even in another country! And, once I entered my professional career, I started taking training classes and eventually moved into education as my profession.
All that to say, training is just a part of me. It’s who I am. It’s something I have always enjoyed, even before I had any professional training skills, and I have been doing it since my first job. Over the years, I have racked up quite a few tips and tricks like these 5 Training Tips to help you love your job!
Training Tip #1: Be a student.
Being a life-longer learner seems obvious to me if you design or build trainings. What I have found with every training team I have been a part of or led, however, is that this is not the norm or even an expectation. This BLOWS my mind. In my opinion, every person in training and development or instructional design should be continually growing and developing.
There are so many resources available today that bring learning to the tips of our fingers with a few strokes or swipes. Learning is fun! And, we can learn from others how to keep learning interesting. We can also keep our skills relevant and understand what is trending so that we build amazing trainings.
In my last role, I realized that video was popular with our target audience. This meant that I needed to incorporate video into our training design. I had two options. Option 1: Create and submit a marketing brief every time I had a video need and get placed in a queue; or Option 2: Learn how to record and edit videos myself.
Which option do you think I chose? Keep in my mind that I had no money for training.
If you chose Option 2, you are right. I went to our in-house expert and asked him to put on a brief training for me and my team. With his training and ongoing support, we became very good at editing videos for our training courses.
This is just one example of how being a student can better you and your trainings. Be a lifelong student and learn what you need to when you need to.
Training Tip #2: Be Agile.
A popular buzzword in project management right now is Agile. Agile project management is so effective and opens the lines of communication with your team and stakeholders. I recommend that you and your team study up on Agile and incorporate the principles into your training development process.
One area of Agile that I find particularly helpful with training development, is velocity. Velocity is exactly what it sounds like – speed. Know your speed. How long does it take YOU to develop training? How long does it take each member of your team? This is so important for you to know but most people don’t know their personal or team’s velocity.
I didn’t know my velocity until I started working in Agile. Here’s something for you to think about that emphasizes the importance of knowing your velocity. If training development takes you 40 hours of development for every one hour of delivery and your boss asks you to develop a one-hour training in two days, is it possible? The answer is NO!
When you know your velocity, you can tell your boss what a realistic development period would be based on your experience.
Training Tip #3: Be a collector.
At the start of every training and when you get a training request, collect information. Right now, I am shouting this at you and at everyone who will listen. COLLECT INFORMATION!!!!!
So many training designers get assigned a training by a higher up and they get scared, say okay, and go to work. No, no, no! Please don’t do this. People who request training are looking at you to be the expert and the professional.
You drive collecting information. You are responsible for following up to get the information you need, even if it takes 10 tries. My former boss used to tell me that I was the best pest he ever met. I am so proud of this! In my book, it’s a compliment. He knew that if he assigned something to me, I would turn over every rock to get the information I needed.
Be relentless in your pursuit of relevant information for your training assignment.
Training Tip #4: Be a statistician.
Not only should you track velocity, you should also track the number of training participants in each training. Analyze the results and feedback for each training, too. And, if you can, analyze how your training impacted a key business initiative. This last one can be a little more difficult to achieve and may require a partnership with your analytics team. If you can get this data and show that your training moved the needle, that’s huge!
Analyze all of the data you can. It will help you design and build more effective and interesting trainings in the future. Sometimes the results are awesome and sometimes they are a bust. Regardless, there is always something to reflect on and take away from the data.
Training Tip #5: Be willing to smile and walk away.
Have you ever designed a training or built a training just to have it get lost on someone’s desk or have it killed just before launch? This is like a gut punch, right? It can be so frustrating or it can be like water and just roll off your back.
It all comes down to perspective. My personal perspective is that you always put what’s best for the company before ego.
In business, we often need to pivot quickly to meet new business needs. A pivot can cause the training we are working on to be de-prioritized or obsoleted completely. When you need to pivot, pivot without mercy, and focus on your new priorities.
Don’t take it personally. Your paycheck most likely wasn’t impacted so just smile and move on.
Well, my friend, these are my 5 Training Tips. Hopefully, one or more of them was useful to you. Designing and building trainings can be a really rewarding profession with the right mindset. I love my work and look forward to sharing with you what I know.
It’s been fun! I hope we can do this again soon!