Social Media for Training Managers


By Joe Baumann (@Baums44)

The next time youre doling out compassion, consider the plight of the corporate training manager particularly in the regulation-heavy Pharma industry.

Not only is corporate training a challenging task (When was the last time you were excited about a new training initiative?), but the world of social media has also added new complexities to almost every facet of training.

Compliance training now needs to address social media or run the risk of being incomplete. The same is true for sales training. Even basic interoffice communications are being impacted by new technologies such as Yammer, which bills itself as “the private social network for your company.

Whats a training manager to do? Several things:

Social media training is at the core of todays compliance-training regimen. Employees likely spend significant time on social media sites and channels even if that time is strictly for personal use, they need to know what the boundaries are when it comes to posting from how to conduct themselves as an employee to what is considered competitive information. Of course, that means a solid social media policy something that many companies still dont have in place.

Training employees at the intersection of company compliance and social media requires new or at least updated materials, since some of the challenges are quite new themselves. While custom materials are the ways most large pharma organizations will go, there are standardized solutions as well.

Dont neglect social media to aid internal training. Social media is more than something employees need to be aware of its something you can leverage for training and peer-to-peer support. In addition to the previously mentioned Yammer, organizations like Socialtext and offer tools useful to enterprise training managers.

Understand that social media changes the dynamics of business and that, in turn, can change the role of training. Social media changes both the frequency and velocity of internal and external communications it establishes a new normal. That increased velocity and frequency also offers a chance to review what it means to deliver training in the organization.

In many perhaps most organizations, training is a fulfillment-delivery service: Managers need associates to be trained in X, Y and Z, and the training department (sometimes part of the human resources department or referred to as learning and development) takes care of it.

But Charles Jennings, former Head of Global Learning at Reuters, offers up a different vision one thats very compelling in an age of instant, always-on communications. Commenting way back in 2006 (ancient history in Internet time!), Jennings says that in the near future trainers will need to become performance consultants able to diagnose the cause of a problem, explore who has ownership and be capable of facilitating a solution. The solution itself might have nothing to do with training, but relate to not paying enough, not recruiting the right quality of personnel, having the wrong process or unrealistic objectives, not allocating enough resources and so on. The challenge facing businesses, he says, is to define the role, responsibility and accountability senior managers have towards developing their people and establishing that any problem around developing people or managing their performance is their problem not the training managers problem.

Thats heady stuff the equivalent of a really strong energy drink for moribund training organizations. And not every company can achieve it. But for those who want to focus relentlessly on performance, its a solid conceptual model.

And one that social media can help deliver.



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