This blog is the third in a series of seven blogs focused on improving the effectiveness and efficiency of learning teams. I hope you find them helpful.
“If I had six hours to cut down a tree, I’d spend the first four sharpening the saw.” – Abraham Lincoln
First off, a little context. I learned the concept of sharpening the saw from The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey. This book is on the list as one of my top ten business books. Sharpening the saw means that you must preserve and enhance the greatest asset you have – you! Covey advocates for balance and growth and periodic renewal through learning new skills over time.
I recently finished a 20+ city Roadshow titled “THE BIG SHIFT: Reimagine Learning to Drive Business Results and Engage Lawyers.” It’s been a lot of fun speaking, listening, and learning from clients across the country. At the end of each Roadshow I conclude with a story that demonstrates the importance of “Sharpening the Saw” and after most of the Roadshows, I spent time with trainers and training managers about this particular topic. Some of them would tell me that no one was willing to invest in their development, others said they didn’t know where to start, and others still told me they had been to train the trainer programs from ATD and Langevin but did not find them as applicable to legal as they would like. And then Traveling Coaches heard from CIOs and COOs on our Customer Advisory Board that, in some cases, trainers could use legal specific skill development. After hearing this, I could tell that many trainers were hungry for development. The landscape of the legal industry and learning and development in general has significantly changed in the past decade, so trainers need to have new skills to support 21st century learners. We decided that if Traveling Coaches was going to be of service in this area, we’d have to do it right and start with the voice of our clients.
We began by reaching out to a collection of forward thinking training managers and asking 3 key questions:
- Do you agree that trainers need development?
- If yes, where do they need to sharpen their skills?
- What are some of the characteristics of your best trainer?
All of the managers agreed that trainers could use development. We had great conversations that covered a large range of skill development areas. And after completing the interviews, Traveling Coaches analyzed the results and found four core competency areas that are needed for today’s legal trainers. When breaking these four areas down, we found a long list of skills – both technical and interpersonal – that need sharpening. Many of the managers also gave great examples of areas where their best trainers were strong. What we’re hoping to do is help everyone improve across the industry. Here is a taste of what we heard:
Discover Performance Needs – legal trainers need to build a web of connections within the firm in order to consult to discover the performance needs of practice groups and administrative departments. They need to be connected to strategic firm goals and possess the skills to conduct qualitative and quantitative analysis of data to identify performance gaps and individual development needs.
Architect Engaging Learning Experiences – they need to think outside the four walls of the classroom and learn to target relevant content to the learner in the context of their work. The trainers must be confident using modern adult learning theory and best in class methods to develop effective learning on multiple platforms using a blended approach.
Realize Results through Effective Coaching and Facilitation – legal trainers need to shift to more of a “guide on the side” rather than a “sage on the stage.” They need to facilitate effectively in classrooms, in virtual settings, and in efficient one on one interactions. They must be prepared to work off-script as needed and provide relevant scenarios rooted in practice specific workflows
Enhance Business Outcomes – they need to be able to deliver measureable value to the firm and maintain a big picture focus on how the learning programs support the firm goals. The trainers need to help maximize the business benefit from technology investments by consulting with customers and engaging project teams to drive adoption.
When I heard these insights, I was excited. As a former client of Traveling Coaches, I remember wishing there was a program for my team to build these skills. It’s validating to find out that there is a need across the industry. So, the team at Traveling Coaches has been hard at work developing a one of a kind program that can help teach (or refresh) these skills. We recently launched the Traveling Coaches Certified Legal Trainer Program to provide clients with a way to sharpen trainer skills. The program is a 6 week, legal specific train the trainer program that is a great investment for trainers looking to improve their effectiveness in order to deliver more value to their firm.
We want to help you sharpen your saw!Come find out more about the program and our learning model during our info session on Thursday, September 3rd 9:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. at ILTACON! Go ahead…we DARE you!
Some questions: Think about how much has changed in legal over the last 10 years. Sometimes trainers invest so much time in developing others that they never get a chance to invest in their skills. How do you sharpen your saw? How do you keep current on the latest innovations and trends in learning and development?
I switched the order a bit. In the next blog, I’ll discuss effective management and leadership of training teams.
Traveling Coaches is here to help! We have programs that can help you redesign your learning programs, improve your communications and help your lawyers and staff embrace change.
Here’s some cool news…we launched a new suite of services to help legal trainers transform their learning programs and develop new skills. Get the full details about SpringboardTM today.
Our ILTA Roadshow is going virtual. Join us for The Big Shift: Reimagine Learning to Drive Business Results and Engage Lawyers. Get the full details and register today.