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.

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3 thoughts on “Learning about learning coordination

  1. Hi Melanie,
    There is no easy easy to learn what you do, it’s all on-the-job! But the secret is that it’s the best way to learn. However, you also have a friend called Murphy who works very hard for you (or against you as the case may be), and just when you think you’ve seen everything or that you’ve ironed out the process and created all the right collaborations to make things happen smoothly, something will happen which you would never have expected… Never a dull day in training!

    One example from recent memory: we have to make an online request to facility services to get our training rooms set up. Following a system update, a bug appeared which resulted on the request time appearing to the facilities team to be 3 hours later than it was made for. So our 8 am set up wasn’t done (furniture not move, flipcharts not setup, projector not installed, etc.). And of course, the facilitator (me in that case) starts thinking that the coordinator didn’t do her job even she had confirmed everything was done and double-checked…

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    • Thanks for your support 🙂 There is never a dull day in training! It is so true. Challenges become opportunities with the snap of a finger.
      Re: your story … My question is, did you come out on top? I’m sure you did 🙂
      thanks again, Mel

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      • Yes, there is always someone I can call who can help… Or you get the first participants who show up to move the furniture for you, or you manage with the suboptimal setup that was there when you show up and the show must go on.

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