Many learning leaders are operating consulting businesses of their own or operating training departments of one. If you’re one of them, here are four tips on how to run your training department as if it were a business of its own.
1. Be Consistent in Look and Feel
One of the first things people notice about the content you develop, your communications, and your business or marketing materials is the detailed attention you give your font choices, colors, and layout of text and images. While your “customers” may have different expectations, and projects will differ from one to the next, maintaining a consistent design on your company’s materials will help you establish and reinforce credibility, trust and professionalism.
Especially for training departments within large organizations, branding is key and align with your company’s image. Your marketing team may be able to help, but if you have the skills to do it yourself, you’ll earn their respect by paying attention to how the logo, fonts and colors are used to represent the company’s brand.
2. Be Bold
It can be intimidating to interact with stakeholders who have a higher title or pay grade than you or who are more aggressive in their conversational tone or demeanor. However, they hired you to be you and to do what you do. Be bold, and don’t be afraid to speak up if a stakeholder is pushing for something that you don’t feel will create the right results.
It might be helpful to ask for reviews or recommendations from the people you help, even if they’re internal, and keep them handy to bolster conversations with stakeholders who may not have worked with you before or with customers who don’t understand the value add you’re proposing. You may feel pushy or even rude at first, while you learn how to assert or insert your thoughts into existing conversations or ongoing message threads. However, others will take notice when you speak up and offer valuable insights.
3. Be Clear
Share your capabilities and potential use cases with the people you wish to partner with, and add a clear call to action to get the ball rolling. In this way, you can market your skills and put your work in front of more people so you can increase your impact. One strategy is to send a personalized email to several department heads or managers of large groups to remind them what you can do to help their teams. They may have a new problem developing in the future, and when the timing is right, you can forge a new partnership to create change in the enterprise.
When something takes place or a decision is made that you should have been involved in, it’s helpful to take a positive tone and address the matter directly. For example, let’s say someone purchases a knowledge management system for their department, when the decision and support should have come from you and your team (or maybe there’s already a system in place they should have used instead). In that case, reach out and let them know that you’re happy to help them, and share with them how the process should work. Remember always to assume the best and be polite but clear when setting new expectations.
4. Be Excellent
While you have that email draft open to send to your stakeholders or prospective clients, emphasize the professional certifications you’ve earned, the development programs you’ve completed and other specific ways that you can help them with their needs. Excellence will come in many forms, from listening to another person’s input, analyzing business needs and improving yourself just as you’re trying to help others improve.
Whether you’re helping them improve or reinforcing your ability to help by citing the experience and training you bring to the table, always strive for that level of excellence in your own work that you hope to inspire in others.