Trainer Talk: Who Else Values Loyalty?

A worthwhile challenge for us as trainers is to make sure our definition of loyalty to training emphasizes meeting the needs of the companies we serve.

By Bob Pike

Will you be working for the same company a year from now? How about two? Will you make it five? Do you have a guarantee? And look back at your career up to now. How many companies have you worked for?

More than one major business publication recently published articles about the passing of the era of company loyalty. The notion that people can have lifelong careers at the same company doesn’t seem to work in today’s economy.

Competition and the increasing costs of doing business have led even the most notably stable companies to find ways to trim their payrolls. Companies no longer promise permanent employment opportunities and comfortable pension plans, although many are quick to offer cash buyouts and early retirement incentives. And, perhaps as a direct result, people seem more inclined to move between companies instead of within companies when seeking new opportunities and responsibilities.

Trainers are no exception, although I think trainers by nature are exceptionally loyal, especially to the training profession. We want to add value and make a difference. We want to help people build their knowledge, skills, and confidence—even when the company environment is not always the best.

Training Directors’ Forum Newsletter (a former Lakewood Media publication) published an article entitled, “Low pay, lack of opportunity, and a need for challenge send many training directors in frequent search of jobs.” Would you agree with that? Has it happened to you? Is the job market all that good? Are there better opportunities out there? Would it surprise you to know the article I just quoted appeared in 1986?

In a recent meeting of training directors, I used the statement without letting them know the year it first appeared. Every single participant strongly agreed with the statement and could provide examples that supported their belief.

One trainer speculated that typical issues—low pay, lack of respect, pressure for immediate impact, etc.—explain why trainers feel a stronger loyalty to training than any particular organization. She said, “It doesn’t make much difference whether you’re training Brownies or brokers. Training is training. It’s only the content that is different. It’s not the industry that keeps people interested; it’s the challenge. They want to see how well they can make their skills work.”

That sentiment, I think, is common. It’s a clear indication of the resilience we have as trainers. And in many ways it is consistent with this column’s intent to focus on your professional skills and needs. But I also would suggest that inherent in every piece of advice about how to be a better trainer is the message that all trainers should focus beyond the classroom (whether that classroom is face to face or online). Doing a great job in the classroom is important. Making sure your training sticks is critical. But making sure you really know your company’s performance gaps is vital.

Where is your organization right now? Where does it want to be? What are the barriers to getting there? Some of those barriers can be removed by developing people’s skills, knowledge, and confidence. Are you doing that with the training you design and deliver? Are you delivering training—or are you delivering results?

A worthwhile challenge for us, I believe, is to expand our loyalty to the profession, to make sure our definition of loyalty to training emphasizes meeting the needs of the companies we serve. That kind of performance will be good for our industry as a whole…and it will look good on a resume.

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Bob Pike is known as the “trainer’s trainer.” He is the author of more than 30 books, including “Creative Training Techniques Handbook.” You can follow him on Twitter and Facebook using bobpikectt.