Learning about learning coordination

There’s no guidebook or manual for what I do.  There’s no course that can teach me how to foresee the rough beast that slouches toward me, defend against it, or turn it away.

My title is training coordinator, and the main thrust of my job is to plan the year’s training, and try to keep everything within budget.  Along with that came a whole set of tasks that I was neither familiar nor comfortable with.

Still, I learned, I dealt, and I made the best of it.

My first big test was to plan the year’s training.  The skeleton was there, but surgery was required.  A titanium joint here, a transplanted bone there, the odd amputation and prosthesis, and voila: a training plan.  Call me Frankenstein.

Then I had to cost it all out given a reduced budget.

I did well though, made it through my first all-day meeting via conference call … for a moment there, I thought I understood what my job was all about.

I think I have to have another look at my job description.  There must be a clause in there somewhere that says “and all other duties as required.”  Or maybe the key phrase is “must tolerate ambiguity.”

I can do most of what’s been asked of me.  I can make pretty tables and Excel worksheets.  I can write proposals, and while my manager rewrites most of what I submit, that’s part of his job.  I haven’t quite learned to cater to my new audience yet.  Give me a defined task, and I’ll make it happen.  It’s all the little stuff that I wasn’t expecting that’s getting to me.  It’s all the chaos.  For a creative person, I don’t do chaos well …

It’s all the last-minute training that no one knows about until a week before it has to be delivered.  Add to that the reassignment of the training team to other duties (so no one to deliver the training) and the necessity of training nearly all the processing staff in the province, and you have a narsty beast indeed.

Though there’s a whole slew of other prioritized work that I need to get done, I’m stuck in scheduling hell.  Nearly 600 staff over 40 sessions, plus independent study groups.  My head spun with that alone, but then I was asked to co-facilitate 6 of the sessions.  Hey, I’m a trainer.  It’s what I did for 3 years.  I can hack it.

And then …  I was asked to do the invitations for all the sessions, and set up the sessions in WebEx because the trainers we recruited weren’t familiar with the technology.  It wasn’t what they signed up for, which is understandable.  They have their own overflowing workloads to deal with too.  Plus, each set of invitations I sent out returned half a dozen changes to the schedule. That is a lot of work for one person.  And it’s not over yet.

Once again, I’m managing.  I’m making it happen.  I’ve even made some suggestions in the event something like this happens in the future (which I think is inevitable).

Regardless what work they may have been assigned to, the best people to handle training is the training team.  They know the technology.  They’re experienced trainers.  They can set up their own sessions and create and send out their own invitations. If I was able to work with them, this training would have gone off without a hitch.  Well there’s still the schedule to consider, but I think that might be a problem under any circumstances (more on this in a moment).

With a team of 6, we could have rotated them through the sessions, so they still could have dedicated most of their time to their reassigned duties, the work would have been distributed, and everyone would have gotten what they needed to out of the deal … with a little compromise.

Failing that plan of action, we have to ensure that anyone recruited to deliver training will be able to fulfill all the duties that the training entails, such as setting up WebEx sessions and doing their own invitations.

I’ve figured out what to do about the schedule too.  Now this was my fault, because I didn’t think of asking for some key information that it turned out I needed.  Another learning experience.  That too, is on the books for “next time.”

For now, things are slowly starting to level out.  It’s still chaos, but it’s an organized kind of chaos.  The rough and slouching beast sits beside my desk, growing only occasionally, and I think we’ll all come out of this intact.  

This may sound like a blog-of-complaint, but I’m trying to keep this as a statement of facts rather than an indictment.  I’ll be fine.  These are just growing pains.  I’m essentially optimistic.  This has just been a heck of a couple of weeks.  It’s hard not to be overwhelmed when you’re … well, overwhelmed.

Had a trial by fire?  What did your rough beast look like?  Were you able to figure out a way to make things work?  Success stories welcome 🙂

I’m the Learning Mutt, circling three times and curling up for a nice nap.