During a layoff period or economic downturn, training is often the first position to go and the last to consider for rehiring. Adding insult to injury, training professionals often garner the little respect from their co-workers. But you’re working hard to build your career, and you want to be taken seriously. What’s the best way to demonstrate your value as a training professional?
Obtain Your MBA
Upper management doesn’t expect you to necessarily have a traditional MBA, but you can have a “My Business Acumen” folder, where you save articles and other resources on business topics. Turnover is expensive, and your job is not just to ensure that employees learn something but also that they apply what they learn for business purposes, resulting (directly or indirectly) in profitability. When employees feel they are making valuable contributions, they are more engaged, and employee retention increases. The more you learn about business operations, the more valuable you become.
Be a Strategic Thinker
Diverse sources and leaders define business strategy differently, from a set of guidelines or tactics to a plan (and on and on). In his TED Talk, Simon Sinek, Simon goes deeper and discusses the “why.”
Ask yourself why you do what you do as a professional learning practitioner. Then, ask why your organization does what it does. Are the answers to these questions in sync?
Keeping up with business, learning and training trends is a must. If you are familiar with market developments, you can plan beyond the “here and now” and serve as a consultant to upper management (being careful not to overstep business unit boundaries).
No one expects you to be a business guru, but you can prove your value by saying, “Yes I agree. I recently read that this issue is an up-and-coming trend, and I have some ideas on how to implement learning strategies around it to increase productivity.”
This strategy also means keeping up with training and delivery methodologies. Once you have a program to develop, you must decide the most effective, efficient and budget-friendly delivery methodology. For example, if you have more remote participants, you may consider using a virtual training platform or a pre-recorded program.
Speaking of Technology
Technology is becoming a part of our DNA. You will need technology to be effective, and your organization will need it to stay competitive. However, you don’t need every bell and whistle that screams, “Pick me! Pick me!”
Selecting and using technology requires up-front research. Therefore, the time has come to develop a working knowledge of technological products and services. When making a decision about purchasing new technology, identify the business case for it. Simply handing in a purchase order will not impress upper management. Instead, write a formal proposal that includes:
- Comparison charts that show why you’re selecting this particular technology and how it compares to other products or services on the market.
- The product’s projection for longevity (Is it a flash in the pan?).
- How the technology will support the organization’s strategic goals.
- Whether the product will have a long learning curve.
You’ve spent time, money, emotion and energy to reach this point in your career. But resting on your laurels will not earn you respect or make you more promotable. Proving your value every day will put you last on the list for a layoff and make you a strong candidate for that new position you’ve had your eye on.