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The Trainer Who Wanted To Fight A Trainee

November 28, 2018

Not everyone is great at their job. Some people are superior, of course. I think the majority of us are simply adequate. But, a few manage to be horrible.

The thing about people who are horrible at their jobs, is that typically they don’t end up staying in their job for long. Walt was an exception.

I was an Instructional Designer for Microsoft. That means I wrote courseware. I literally designed it. There’s an entire process that goes into ID work. You build a learning domain. That’s the stuff you want to teach. You set objectives for each item in your domain. And then you build a course to meet all the objectives.

A reasonable development ratio for a technical course like Microsoft Exchange would be 50:1. In other words, it will take you about 50 hours to create each hour of classroom content. Our courses were typically 40-80 hours long. That means, the ID would be working for months on a course.

Once it was done, the fun part started. The ID would hold a “Train the Trainer” course, were our full time instructors would come in and learn the course. Then, especially if it was a new-to-product course, the instructors and the IDs would head out to teach.

It was one of the best jobs I ever had.

I worked closely with our fulltime instructors. They were very good at what they did. Well, except Walt.

I’m not sure how Walt stayed in his position. He was significantly older than the other trainers, and certainly older than our trainees. Being older, he assumed meant that we should defer to him. Considering we were training around brand new software, I’m not sure where he got the idea that age equated to wisdom.

Most of the time, Walt did a tolerable job. But, he was quick to take offense if anyone challenged his teaching. At one point, we had a new Microsoft Exchange course and I flew to Charlotte, North Carolina to observe Walt teaching my course for the first time.

At one point in the lecture he missed a concept. It happens, especially with new material.

Walt, don’t you mean that the feature doesn’t cause this condition?

No, Rodney. I mean that this feature will cause the condition listed.

Are you sure? I’m pretty sure it doesn’t.

You’re wrong. It works the way I expained it.

We had a room full of trainees, so I didn’t push the issue. It was a minor point, but I wanted to make sure the students didn’t come away with bad information. I pulled Walt aside during a break.

Hey, I didn’t want to say much in front of the class, but that feature doesn’t work the way you described it.

Sure it does.

No, you’ve gotten it mixed up. It actually works the opposite of how you expained it.

No, it doesn’t. I’m sure it works the way I said.

I don’t want to argue, but you’re wrong.

I’m not wrong. I can show you in the book where it says it works like I said!

Walt? I wrote the book.

Walt never did lose his job training. Eventually, our department was shut down and people were reassigned.

I guess I should feel good that my interaction with him went as smoothly as it did. At one point while teaching a new class a student disagreed so strongly with him, that Walt suggested they continue the discussion out in the parking lot with a hands on demonstration.

I miss that job.

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren.

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(c) 2018 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved

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