Note to Trainers: Adapt to Business Needs

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It’s survival of the fittest. The IT trainers who evolve and adapt to this recession will emerge successful, while those who don’t will flounder.

“This economy is going to determine who survives and who doesn’t,” said Nina Moore, the instructor team leader for ExecuTrain of South Florida. “[And] the survivors will be the best businesspeople, not the best technical people.”

While Moore acknowledged that technical expertise is a must, she believes with the current economic downturn that trainers must understand and adapt to the needs of the business.

“We have to be more business-savvy than our competition, and we really have to address the pain and the issues of the business in order to justify our cost,” she said. “[In] every conversation [you] have with customers, [you] have to add value. And value is in the eye of the beholder. You have to be able to connect yourself to their bottom line.”

Trainers also should recognize the effects of the recession in the classroom as the profile of their students has changed.

“The students in your class are wearing additional hats because someone was laid off,” Moore said. “The profile of your student has changed from someone who is there to learn, so they can grow in their company, to someone who is there because they’re covering an empty space that won’t be filled. They’re emotional, stressed, overworked, underpaid [and] now underskilled.”

As a result, trainers must adjust their teaching. “Every day [students are in training], their desk is piling up even more,” Moore said. “How does it change the training procedure? We need to be more empathetic. Physically, we need to walk around more. We need to get out of the ‘me’ zone and be more in the ‘we’ zone.”

In doing this, instructors will provide a better environment, one where students truly can focus and learn.

“If [students are] sent to learn a product or software and they’re not focused [and] not engaged, they won’t learn it,” Moore said. “Then you didn’t meet that corporate client’s investment. [If] you have a different student, [then] you have to behave differently.”

Further, if you are a contract trainer who, like many of Moore’s peers, has been hit especially hard by the economy, it’s important to push forward.

“This economy can hit you like a ton of bricks. You need to be able to pick yourself back up so that [you] can get that next contract,” Moore said. “We’re all experiencing a huge emotional impact. As trainers, if we’re not getting the contracts we have been used to [or] we’re not working as many hours, we need to focus on supporting our emotions.”

How exactly can you do that?

“Get out of the house. That’s the hardest thing — to just get out,” More said. “If the economy is overwhelming you, break it down into little things you can do. It can be anything from getting up [to] calling 10 people a day.”

– Lindsay Edmonds Wickman, lwickman@certmag.com

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