OK, neither I nor anyone else can promise that! But here is something to bear in mind – your trainers can be a lot more effective with a solid train-the-trainer program. And, even before that – what about an on-boarding program?
In working together with one of my partners on a customized, two-level T3 (Train-The-Trainer) program for a client, one issue surfaced that has appeared in other quarters – how often new trainers come in from the field and are simply shoved into the deep end of the pool! To make the training experience optimal – for the new trainer and the incoming trainees – sales training departments need to consider a well-structured “acclimation” process.
What should an on-boarding, or acclimation, process include? Well, for one thing, there are some basic logistical issues – how (not) to decorate your cubicle, how to properly use HQ voice and e-mail, dress code, how to address superiors, etc. Amazingly, sometimes this is simply not addressed, leaving new trainers to have to ask around, or make embarrassing mistakes.
Here’s another one that came up in a discussion last week – relational intelligence in the new, corporate environment. Moving from a field sales rep to an in-house trainer involves a complete shift in types of relationships – and ramifications of how one’s conduct can impact future promotability. In the field, a rep is cultivating long-term relationships with physicians, and is under the direct supervision of a district manager. In the corporate office, however, the new trainer is engaged in temporary relationships with trainees – and is under the watchful eyes of numerous superiors who can make or break a future career.
Since a rotation through the training dept. is often a stop along the way of promotion to management, the new trainer has to understand clearly that a new dynamic is at work – you’re no longer a solo operator selling product messages, you are a future leader selling yourself in an environment where there is corporate scrutiny, and where rough edges (if not smoothed out) may put an end to a career.
A rep might make a mistake in the field and offend one doctor or office manager, and perhaps it would have a negligible effect in the overall scheme of things. But a new trainer has to realize that his/her actions and attitudes within the corporate office need to involve a new level of relational intelligence – initiative must be shown while also following direction; individual expression has to be tempered with levels of conformity.
In other times, we’d simply call it self-control!
Here is how I sketched it out on a whiteboard. The client didn’t pay my multi-million dollar invoice for the concept, so I’m free to share..
How do you perform on-boarding of new trainers? Do you include such themes as emotional/relational intelligence? Were you guided in the early days, or was it purely sink or swim?