If summer movie blockbusters have taught me anything, it’s this: no matter how bleak the circumstances—heroes who recognize, embrace, and employ their superpowers will prevail. In reality, most of us are superheroes in our own right, albeit in a less glamorous way (which is good since a blue spandex leotard and cape is a hard look to pull off).
Just think about it: whenever a critical project needs to get off the ground without the resources needed to do it – somehow we get it done. Whenever we need to fit a 90-minute topic into a 20-minute online course—we miraculously make it happen. Despite logic and against the odds, we make amazing things happen every day by using our individual (and team) superpowers.
Many of us have already recognized and developed our training design superpowers, but what if you’re the team’s utility—doing a little bit of everything—and you haven’t quite found your niche? Or, what if you’re new to the world of online training and aren’t really sure what your superpower is yet? In light of those intimidating and omnipresent villains known as “Vanishing Budget” and “Soul-Crushing Workload,” how can you defy the odds, find your training strengths (and weaknesses), and use that knowledge to develop your training design superpowers?
Step 1: Identify Your Superpower(s)
You might be a Super-Techie if…
- everyone turns to you for help with their technology issues.
- you’re constantly proposing/implementing technology-based training solutions.
- you enjoy the technical aspect of developing online training more than the creative aspect of designing online training.
You might be a Super-Project Manager if…
- you pride yourself on being able to manage competing priorities.
- you have a knack for negotiating compromises with SMEs or project stakeholders.
- you favor the planning and analysis phases of training more than you enjoy the design, development, or delivery phases.
You might be a Super-Trainer if…
- you’re a self-described people-person who gets energized by presenting to an audience.
- delivering training is your strongsuit, so while you bring creative flair to your online training designs, you can’t help but feel that you’re sacrificing training quality in an online environment.
You might be a Super-Designer if…
- co-workers always bring you their PowerPoint slides or Word docs to “make them look nice.”
- you’re the go-to person for proofreading or editing other people’s writing.
- you love the design phase of the training design process - especially the challenge of visualizing complex topics.
Step 2: Determine How to Develop Your Superpowers by Facing Your Weaknesses
Skills aren’t everything; even Superman had his kryptonite. Strengths don’t evolve into superpowers without development. This means you need to plan ways of overcoming the inevitable obstacles to realizing your potential. Ask yourself:
- What training team responsibilities can I take ownership of NOW – with minimal disruption to projects or the team? If you’re a Super-Trainer, offer to be the “spokesperson” for a new training initiative. Use your people skills and contacts to build momentum around training or offer to kick-start the training by delivering it to a “select audience” in a blended classroom/online environment.
- What specific steps can I take to demonstrate my willingness and readiness to formalize my role or take on new responsibilities? Example: If you think you’re a Super-Techie, own your strengths and your weaknesses. Approach your manager about collaborating on a “workplace development plan” that encompasses on-the-job training, 10% time (weekly downtime you can use for independent study), and increasing responsibilities.
- What can I do on my own time to develop my skills? Here’s the reality: many organizations simply don’t have the resources to develop their talent, so it’s up to us to look within, find those aspects of our job that really intrigue or inspire us, and then take the time to develop ourselves. For example: take a computer class, read books on project management or business negotiation, subscribe to a training design blog, or start writing your own training blog!
Step 3: Leverage Free Resources to Develop Your Superpowers
If you're a Super-Techie, check out...
If you're a Super-Project manager, check out...
If you're a Super-Trainer, check out...
If you're a Super-Designer, check out...
- (Shameless plug) Mindflash blog – for even more practical training tips
- Cathy Moore’s ‘Making Change’ blog
What are your training design superpowers? Please use your powers for good and share them with us by clicking on the comment link.
Trina Rimmer is a learning and communications consultant with twelve years experience designing, developing, and delivering smart, engaging training solutions. When her training skills aren't being tested by her children, you'll find her helping others to develop their own design muscles. Contact Trina at firstname.lastname@example.org.