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Why I’ve asked every trainer at my organization to attend our local ATD chapter’s annual conference

Sometimes people who are really, really good in their technical area of expertise are asked to train others... and they're not always equipped to do so effectively.


I work at an eye bank. I’m surrounded by a lot of very smart people. We cure a lot of blindness. We want to cure more, so we’re growing.

As we grow and roles get more specialized, many of our departments have created technical training positions. While the people who fill those positions are among the best in the world at what they do, they’ve had very little exposure to trends and best practices in learning and professional development.  

Next week, our local Association for Talent Development (Puget Sound) chapter is having its annual 1-day conference. A colleague and I began a conversation a little while back and we remarked about how great it would be if we could bring all of our trainers to the conference. It would be even better if we could 1) sit down with them all before the conference to set some performance-focused goals, 2) go to the conference as a group, and 3) come together afterwards to debrief and discuss how each person planned to use what they learned.

I made the case to my boss, who helped me make the case to our CFO. Our case was straight forward: the conference is local and registration for up to 14 staff would be a good investment. He agreed.

Then I reached out to the supervisors of all of the trainers, and they also felt this was a good investment.

Why is this a good investment? Let me count the ways.

  1. No matter how smart and awesome people are in their technical area of specialty, they should also be familiar with best practices in learning and development.
  2. Many of the presenters at our local ATD conference will model what excellent design and facilitation looks like… lessons that can be borrowed and transferred back to our own organization.
  3. Sometimes it’s easy to get too insular within our own organization. No matter how amazing of an L&D professional I may be, it will be quite helpful to expose our trainers to other training professionals outside our organization, and outside our industry.
  4. With their registration, each person also walks away with a year membership in our local ATD chapter – allowing each person to be a member of a training-focused professional association.
  5. It’ll be as close as we’ll get to an organization-wide trainer retreat – an opportunity to learn, reflect and bond around a common experience. No ropes courses or trust falls, but it’ll do.

If you’re part of a training team or internal learning and development department, I’d love to hear what you do to develop and bond with trainers across your organization.

Are you in the Seattle area? Will you be attending next week’s conference? If so, I’d love to connect! Drop me a line at bpwashburn at gmail dot com.


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