Here Today, Gone Tomorrow

Rotating line workers through the Training function has proven to be an effective practice, but the proliferation of “short-time” trainers comes with its concerns.

“Hello, I must be going.”

More than half of the people in the Training field at any given time are in a transitory state. “Hello, I must be going,” is a familiar refrain among those line managers and others who come to Training as part of a process to develop themselves and move on to other positions within a company. Rotating line workers through Training departments in two-or three-year assignments has proven to be an effective practice—trainees benefit from knowledge imparted “straight from the source,” and the line manager/trainer improves communication skills and organization-wide exposure, and often leaves personally enriched by the experience of helping others in the company perform their jobs better.

But the proliferation of “short-time” trainers comes with its concerns—namely, the message being sent by perpetuating the perception of Training simply as a touch-down spot. Eye-catching statistics from the Association for Talent Development bring the point home: Membership shows nearly 50 percent turnover in any given five-year period. I’ve seen this in my own presentations at the annual ATD ICE event. Each year since 1977, I’ve had between 500 and 1,000 people in my sessions. Each year, I ask how many have seen me present before. Each year, it is less than 20 percent of the audience!


More often these days, many who come to Training don’t plan on finishing there. For these people, it’s not a career, but rather a means to a separate end.

With that in mind, should we discourage the practice of rotating line people through training? Certainly not. It does mean that when the line person arrives, Training managers and others of influence should make a point of stressing the value of better utilizing human resources—particularly in this time of dwindling budgetary resources—as a company’s competitive edge. It means clearer Training career ladders should be established for those contemplating a future in Training. And it means more should be done to convince those line trainers with the promise that a career in Training can benefit both their personal aspirations and the organization.

Many may return to the line unswayed, but that doesn’t have to mean unaffected. Those managers of the future we work with now as trainers will see the seriousness of purpose that we have as Training professionals to design and deliver training that makes a difference. And they will see we are doing it by creating partnerships within the organization, partnerships that show we are not doing things for people or doing things to people, but rather doing things with people to create training that has bottom-line impact.


Overwhelming support for Training won’t come in the next year, or even the next five years, but it can happen in the next decade. By providing first-hand evidence to those line people now “lending” their knowledge to Training departments (some of them likely to lead the company into the next decade), we can show that trainers are committed and can play a powerful role in helping a company gain a competitive advantage. And as a long-term result, we will see ourselves improve our standing among our line colleagues.

Until next time—continue to add value and make a difference!

Bob Pike, CSP, CPLP FELLOW, CPAE Speakers Hall of Fame, is known as the “trainer’s trainer.” He is the author of more than 30 books, including “Creative Training Techniques Handbook” and his newest book, “The Expert’s Guide to BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) to Training.” You can follow him on Twitter and Facebook using bobpikectt.