What Do You Do?

Just the other day, I was picking my daughter up from art camp and another mother asked the proverbial question, “What do you do?”

My response was something like, “I’m a project manager and an instructional designer at Innovative Learning Group. I manage and write training and performance support solutions for corporate clients.”

I couldn’t help but recognize the glazed-over eyes, and then heard the typical query, “So, you train people?” It’s just not laypeople to the learning and performance support industry who give me this reaction… people who work in human resources and communications, and those who work for big and small companies also check out and assume that ALL I do is “train people.”

Renton_Question_MarksFor many, training is still a class you take at work where a person stands in front of you and regurgitates information or “shows” you how to do something. What we do here at ILG is so much more than that; to say that’s all we do simply isn’t accurate. The conundrum… how do I convey what we do without long-winded explanations?

People are being “trained” every day and simply don’t realize it. We now call it learning and performance support (ugh, I know, even more difficult to explain). But what is it?

I usually answer the question by turning it around and connecting with the person. For instance, I asked the person I was talking to what she did. She’s a manager at a local restaurant. Then, I asked her some questions related to her job such as, “Are there food safety posters hanging in the backroom?” “Do you have a guide to help employees ring up customers?”

She said that there were indeed posters hanging and a register quick reference. I then explained how those are job aids. They’re actually “training” employees on food safety procedures and/or how to ring up customers and that what I do is work with companies to create these performance support materials.

So, how do we easily explain what we do in the training (learning) and performance support industry? I think one way is helping people to recognize where they get performance support at their own jobs. I think an accurate description of what we do can be summed up as follows: “I help employees perform their jobs better. And this can be by creating a job aid, an e-learning course, or yes, even an instructor-led training course.”

I’d love to hear how you explain to other non-learning people what we do.

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