Why do Legal Training Managers Need to GROW?
This blog is the fourth in a series of seven blogs focused on improving the effectiveness and efficiency of learning teams. I hope you find them helpful.
I was speaking with a law firm Training Manager the other day and she was visibly upset. She explained that one of the trainers on her team had left the firm and a decision was made not to backfill the role. She was worried how to get all the work done and wondered how to tell the team. She told me that they had not backfilled the last trainer either. I asked how many trainers they used to have and how many trainers were left. Then I asked the follow up question,“How many do you need?” And things got very quiet. And they stayed quiet.
Managing a training team is not easy in a world where we are constantly asked to do more with less. Training Managers today are faced with complex strategic challenges all the time. I’ve had a chance to speak with a lot of Training Managers in the last year and here are some of the challenges I heard about:
- Organizational Design – How do I know how many people to have on the team and how do I effectively communicate this to senior leadership? Which offices should I support in person and which ones virtually? Whom should we report to? Should the job descriptions change?
- Change Management – How can I increase the awareness of and the desire for the training services we provide? How do I increase adoption for technology that was already rolled out?
- Measurement & Evaluation – How do I communicate the value of training? Do I need to provide return on investment calculations? Should I have a training dashboard or a set of Key Performance Indicators?
- Seat at the Table – How do I increase my influence so I learn about projects earlier and hear more about the business goals of the firm? How can I increase the profile of the training team?
- New Vision – How can I develop a new direction for the team? How can I offer a range of types of education so I can better match the learning preferences of my lawyers and staff? How do I grow my team’s skills to develop non-classroom options?
- Quality – How do I make sure the materials and training delivery are consistent across the firm offices? How can I set standards for the team?
- Performance Management – How do I coach and support my team to get the best out of everyone? What do I do if someone is not performing?
These are just a few of the questions Training Managers need to answer today. There are more.
Training Managers are required to wear many hats. They play the roles of accidental project manager, business analyst, technology evangelist, communication specialist, vendor quality manager, customer advocate, troubleshooter, and strategic partner to others.Depending on the Training Manager’s level of experience, many of these roles are new. And sometimes they need to develop new skills to solve these strategic challenges. Generally, if Training Managers have a problem, they can go to their Director or CIO and learn from previous experience. The trouble is that, in most cases, Training Managers report to someone who knows very little about training and maybe even less about effective change efforts. I mean no disrespect, but most Technology Training Managers or Supervisors report to someone much more technically proficient who may not be an expert at the people side of change. To meet these new challenges, Training Managers need to find ways to GROW their skills.
Here are a few suggestions for what you can do if you are faced with these challenges:
- Find a Partner – Find another Training Manager at a firm near you and invite them for a cup of coffee or lunch. Partner on current challenges, share best practices, and leverage each other’s strengths.
- Expand Your Network – Attend local meetings in your area. This could be ILTA sessions, ATD meetings, SHRM, or even localMeetups. Use the network to find out what others are doing.
- LinkedIn Groups – Find groups that talk about training. Listen and post questions. Even if the conversation isn’t technology or legal specific, you can learn a lot. There is a Legal IT Network, a Training Managers Group, an Organizational Change Practitioners, a Legal Technology Training Professionals group, and many more! There is also the ILTA Connected Community (not a LinkedIn group, but another place to connect).
- MOOCs and Webinars – Find a Massive Open Online Course on a topic that you are looking to find. There are some greatsessions out there. There are also a lot of great training related Webinars from the Kirkpatrick Partners, ATD, Eliot Masie, and others.
- Find a Coach – Traveling Coaches offers Training Manager coaching as part of our Springboard™ Elevated Learning Program services. We have award winning Coaches and Consultants ready to unlock your potential and help you GROW. And the best part is that we are specific to Legal Technology Training Managers and are plugged in to the latest best practices. Contact us to sign up for a free 30 minute Strategy Session to get some support for the challenges you face and see what it’s like to have someone in your corner. Coaching is transformationaland can lead to greater productivity, faster action, and deeper learning.
Law firm learning and technology are changing at a rapid rate and Training Managers are increasingly asked to do more with less and radically transform their learning teams and services provided to lawyers and staff. We hope you can use these tips to master your strategic challenges.
Traveling Coaches is here to help. We have services to help you redesign and elevate your learning programs.