The difference between presenting and training is often not clear. Buzzwords such as “learning objectives,” “learner-centric” and “active learning” can create confusion, and developing training often means spending hours creating elaborate PowerPoint slide decks. This process is time-consuming, and the slide decks mean very little to a learner who has not participated in the training.

So how do you inspire busy subject matter experts to move from simply presenting to training? How do you simultaneously change the mindset across all levels of the organization that training is more than presenting?

A newly formed training department in global safety at Novo Nordisk recently faced this challenge. Their two-and-a-half-year journey began with introducing the importance of learning objectives and how to write them and ended with trainers and managers knocking on the door of the training department for advice and inspiration. This journey incorporated training into the organization’s competency catalogue and firmly secured its inclusion on the agenda as a future activity.

Novo Nordisk is a global healthcare company with more than 90 years of innovation and leadership in diabetes care. Headquartered in Denmark, it employs approximately 41,600 people in 75 countries and markets its products in more than 180 countries. Global Safety is responsible for patient safety and has over 400 employees. Training at Novo Nordisk is decentralized, so it is common to find different levels of maturity in training departments across the organization. Sharing best practices is common across training departments, and the voluntary training network hosted by trainers is a source of inspiration.

A new learning management system branded the training department.

The launch of a new LMS created an administration process owned by the training department. In preparation, the department wrote over 150 course descriptions with active learning objectives. All classroom and virtual trainings were finally anchored in one place, and the organization began to understand the role of the training department. Slowly, the seeds of respect began to grow.

Training principles matter.

Three key training principles are the backbone of our work in the training department:

  • Training is based on the needs of the business: It’s clear why a training program exists.
  • All training has clear learning objectives: It’s clear to the learners what they will be able to do after the training program.
  • Training is learner-centric: Training is engaging and interactive.

These principles are communicated at every opportunity.

A train-the-trainer course paved the way.

Management gave the green light to launch an internal train-the-trainer course. The training department designed, developed and launched an optional interactive, two-day course for global safety trainers. To date, the organization has delivered the course seven times to over 70 trainers in three countries. They returned to the office with fresh ideas and the motivation to make one small change. Positive feedback is always encouraging, and it spread like a domino effect to all levels of the organization. Optional quarterly post-course training laboratory meetings enabled trainers to share best practices and try out and discuss new tools in a safe environment with their colleagues. Requests for advice on moving from presenting to training at the individual and team level are flowing in to the training department.

Training strategy is an anchor for the future.

Two years later, the strategy that the training department worked on “under the table” became a request from management. This strategy has firmly secured many training tasks (both “needed” and “nice-to-have”) on the agenda and given training a clear direction for the future.

There is never an ideal order of activities to develop and brand a training department. Sometimes, tasks are decided on, and the department must fit them into a logical order. Other times, the department gets to choose the direction and create the logic. It is always a balance between push and pull, requiring constant adjustments to meet the individuals and the organization where they are.

Here is some advice for new training departments:

  • Think strategically, but act operationally.
  • Understand the business and its needs and individual employee needs.
  • Say “yes” to requests from management. Clarify the “why” as necessary, and figure out the “how” later.
  • Be open to listening to voices at all levels of the organization.
  • Be patient. Rome was not built in a day.