21 years of training

It is very unusual to have an HR specialist who can also train. We are very lucky at CHaRM to have two. In the early days of my career I worked alongside a Training Manager who was responsible for all management training. He was a lovely guy and great blue sky thinker, but when it came to actually delivering or getting anything done he was a complete non-starter. My internal client managers (production and factory managers) came to me and asked me if I would develop a practical training programme for managers. I decided to give it a go and have never looked back. I became an HR specialist who can train - one of a rare breed. It was something I really enjoyed - passing my knowledge onto others. There was always a technical element to the training that I delivered because of the employment law which surrounded many of the management topics and that gave it a different edge from the normal run of the mill management courses.

When I started CHaRM, although I set the business up as an HR business, it very quickly became clear that there was a need for training, which I could fulfil and which clients asked for. It is great to see someone develop and grow and that is a great motivator for me. It is something I haven't lost in my 21 years at CHaRM and I derive great pleasure from being involved in the development of others. Over the last 21 years, things have evolved to include the development of much more senior people and an involvement at a much more strategic level than when I first started out. The talent development activities that we deliver still give me a great buzz as I watch new managers develop and grow. That job satisfaction has not changed for me, but many things in training have changed over the last 21 years.

The use of technology in training has changed things enormously. We used to develop whole training programmes around a video (or a cine film when I first started), usually a John Cleese video, with activities and much learning derived from the use of his videos. They really were excellent to use. You built your training programme around the resources available, which were many and varied, rather than fitting resources into the training programme, which is the more modern way. Choosing the resources first allowed real time for activities, so that skills could be practised in a safe environment before returning to the workplace. So much training has gone on-line now and we have lost much of the interaction and learning from others as a result. Even the John Cleese videos are available these days as bite sized clips on-line.

When I started my career in the 1980s, training budgets were much more plentiful than they are now, so we could indulge ourselves with training courses spread over several days. That is a luxury now, with businesses so stretched that they cannot allow people time away from work from learning. We have developed our webinar programme for new managers and team leaders in response to that, and that has been well received. Bite-sized chunks of learning do make it easier for people to learn basic skills, with many training subjects also being available on mobile devices. The benefit of this new approach is that training is available much quicker and to a much wider audience than it was when I started delivering.

On-line and mobile learning is great for knowledge and compliance training, such as the FCA training that many organisations need to comply with. When it comes to behavioural and skills development though, there is no substitute for practical, interactive classroom based training where people can learn from each other as much as the trainer. Learning from others is still mentioned in many evaluations as one of the real benefits of traditional learning methods.