Moving the Needle: How to “Not” Fight Resistance Toward Training

Whether you are a trainer or a stakeholder, you both possess areas of expertise. And whether there are times we agree or disagree, the bottom line is that we need each other, and our learners need us.

Agility—the ability to move quickly and easily. This word comes up often within the world of Learning and Development, but the question remains: Are you truly an agile player when it counts? The next question you may ask yourself is: When does it count? The answer to that question is: All the time. Change is inevitable, and not everyone is going to be on board when changes occur, so you either find your agility while in the game or graciously bow out.  

As a trainer, you support an organization, a group, or a channel, and, at times, are at the mercy of what that they deem fit or appropriate when it comes to training. Our natural instinct is to guard and protect the learner’s experience, as it should be. But when the circumstances are out of your control, you must pull out your training resources and go with the flow. To me, there is no sense in dwelling among the uncontrollable. However, you can still be strategic in your approach.  

Educators of adults and stakeholders of a business will not always see eye to eye—and why should they? Their short-term goals are not always aligned. Educators seek to promote positive behaviors, encourage their audience to own their learning and use their tools and resources effectively to resolve customer issues. Stakeholders, many times, focus on the metrics. Don’t get me wrong—not all stakeholders think this way, but as long as I have been an adult educator, this has been the rule, not always the exception.

So How Do We Agree to Disagree?

When it comes to the magic that is created in the classroom, you are the only one to wave that wand. Stakeholders will have their say and make requests we may feel are unreasonable when it comes to the learner experience, but we are trainers, after all, and it is within our area of expertise to make any situation work with the learner in mind.

Let’s face it, hard facts and numbers can stifle agility, while innovativeness builds up progress.   When the needle moves in the right direction, it’s not because a target was set and learners just decided to abide, it’s because trainer/learner collaboration and discussion took place. It’s because we challenged the learner to reach far beyond his or her comfort zone. A difference in opinion of what is best for the learner is a moot point once that learner enters your classroom. We lay the foundation and set the tone.  

Andy Grove, the founder and CEO of Intel, stated, “There are only two ways in which a manager can impact an employee’s output: motivation and training. If you are not training, then you are basically neglecting half the job.”

If managers do not step in by supporting training, then they are failing their employees, and also failing to meet those metrics they are so desperately trying to attain. From a learning and development perspective, it can be difficult to sell the benefits of training to an organization that is consumed by metrics and employee schedule adherence. This is where as trainers, we need to be strategic while being agile. We have a lot more skin in the game than some realize. Training can take place informally and at any time, even when our learners are unable to leave their desks. 

STRETCH Yourself

Here are some tips on being able to STRETCH as a trainer (Strategic, Tangible, Real time, Education, Teamwork, Collaboration, Hands-on):


  1. Think of every opportunity as a teachable moment.Part of your job as a trainer is to consult. These consultations can be mini-check-ins with leaders or employees of leaders. Take every opportunity to ask that open question that will lead you to a collaborative conversation. All you need is five minutes or less to exchange an idea.
  2. An educational moment can easily be made into a tangible learning document. It can be as simple as an idea on an index card an employee can refer to in that moment of need and also acts as a refresher (or a booster) for the future.
  3. Where there are real-time customer/employee interactions, there should be real-time coaching opportunities.Trainers should have all of the tools leaders have to monitor customer/employee interactions as they are happening. We have the ability to catch areas of opportunity, as well as acknowledge a job well done.
  4. Education comes in many forms.When the opportunity to conduct face-to-face training doesn’t present itself, there are still ways to educate your learners. Send them a couple of tips through e-mail, or use an instant messaging app such as Jabber for those instantaneous teachable moments.  
  5. Teamwork and collaboration must be a constant.Your stakeholders, whether they think they need your help or not, surely would be the first ones sound the alarm if you were not available to them. So be available! Show your face, check in, keep them in the loop on the latest learning trends. Be hands on!

I recently saw a quote that resonated with me: “True leadership is about surrounding yourself with people who know what they are doing—and then utilizing them for their expertise.”

Whether you are a trainer or a stakeholder, you both possess areas of expertise. And whether there are times we agree or disagree, the bottom line is that we need each other, and our learners need us.  

Alaine Carrello is a senior trainer in Learning and Development at Verizon. She has been with Verizon Wireless for more than 20 years and has been in the Learning and Development organization since 2010. Carrello is a Summa Cum Laude graduate of Bellevue University with a Bachelor’s degree in Adult Education. Creative writing is her passion, and she recently published her first book.


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