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Training Tips from the Roundtable

Tuesday, September 18, 2012  
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"Training Tips from the Roundtable" is a new series of blog articles posted to share the experiences, discussions and best practices of over 10 years of quarterly trainer meetings hosted by ATD NYC member, Laura Balogh, Training Director, New York Life.   

My team at New York Life Insurance Company hosts quarterly Trainer Roundtable meetings which we've found extremely beneficial from both a networking and best practices perspective. I started these events back in 2002 to provide a forum for learning professionals to gather and share ideas as well as challenges they face on a daily basis.

In the beginning, we invited New York Life employees only, but within a year, we branched out to include educators from many different companies and walks of life, with representation from the financial industry, food companies, retail, and state governments. This all started when current New York Life trainers recommended the Roundtable to their friends and contacts in the field. The meetings are held via teleconference for those outside our Home Office, since we have participants from all over the country, and in some cases, from other countries as well. Depending on the time of year and trainer schedules, we usually average about 15 participants at each meeting, which ensures that everyone has a chance to contribute.

We've discussed a variety of interesting topics through the years, such as the logistics of training on the road, coping with generational and cultural differences in class, evaluation metrics, the use of subject matter experts, virtual training best practices, and the usage of social and mobile platforms.  

After each session, which usually run from 1 to 1.5 hours, detailed Minutes are distributed to each participant electronically. Along with this document, any follow up ideas that were under discussion is also shared, such as ice breakers or class activities that others may have found helpful and they wish to share with the group. At this point, we also plan for the next meeting in the coming quarter, by soliciting for new agenda items.

It's important to note that the conversations don't stop in between the quarterly meetings. The trainers maintain the relationships started through the Round table by interacting on different sidebar issues via telephone or email.  As an example, one of the members recently shared some interesting Minutes from a Social Media Workshop she attended through another company. The New York Life moderator distributed this information to the rest of the Roundtable group, which includes tips on how to get the most out of social media, like LinkedIn.

My training team here at New York Life has made a number of innovative changes within our area as a result of ideas shared in the Round table meetings. For example, we developed an online training request form, so that we can better organize, schedule and assign all incoming learning requests. Previously, we had accepted requests via email or as a result of a phone call or a casual conversation with managers in our service centers. This formalized the process to ensure that requests weren't neglected. We also worked with our Systems area to develop an internal training eRoom, which enables our trainers to post and share their materials in one common area, view the current training calendar, and view important announcements about upcoming events of importance to our group.  Last but not least, the trainers gain from the opportunity to simply get together and talk with others in the field, which encourages them to take a step further in their careers and get involved with professional associations like the ASTD. We plan on continuing these meetings each quarter and welcome anyone who may be interested in attending. My email is LMBalogh@optonline.net if anyone would like to obtain more information about our group.

Laura Balogh is a Training Director at New York Life Insurance Company, where she has worked for 11 years. Prior to that, she worked as manager of Customer Education & Awareness at Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of NJ. In her personal life, Laura is an avid hiker who recently completed the Inca Trail in Peru. She also is a movie buff and published author who wrote a book and several articles about the silent film world.


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