Learning Everyday: The Story of a Microsoft Trainer in Aberdeen

Looking For Learning

It's In Their Eyes

One of the things I love about being a trainer is seeing that ‘look’ in delegate’s eyes when something I’m showing them unlocks their mind about how they can apply this learning back in the workplace.

I’ve worked within a few different sectors including oil & gas, finance, retail, sales & marketing, pharmaceuticals and the legal industry taking on various roles – laterally the roles being more training or support based.

I’ve found these experiences to be invaluable when it comes to designing and delivering training courses.

I don’t train people on what Excel can do.

I train people on what Excel can do for them.

I think there is a big difference, huge!

Getting into a training role happened by accident for me really and although I’ve learned many new skills since being in this industry, a lot of experiences from jobs I had in retail and sales – which if I’m being honest I didn’t enjoy at the time (although the social aspects were awesome), have helped me so much ever since.

I’ll always remember getting my first interview for a learning role.

I had to deliver a 15-minute presentation on a Microsoft topic of my choice and prior to the interview I was asked whether I’d like to deliver it using Office 97 or Office 2003.

I can even remember exactly where I was at the time when I took the call to answer this question. I was standing outside Sommerfield on Union Street, Aberdeen with my ‘not an iPhone’ in one hand and two plastic bags of shopping cutting into the other.

“2003”, I answered in a very matter of fact tone but actually at that time I’d no idea there were different versions let alone what the differences were – remember, I still worked in a bank at this time which had only recently upgraded from using computers with green screens.

I’ll also never forget that ‘look’ the lady interviewing me gave when telling me I’d got the job!

Since then I like to think I have progressed just as Microsoft Office has progressed and I love learning and sharing all the features.

I also understand that although, for me, Microsoft Office is pretty much my job but for most people it is only a ‘tool’ that they have to use to do their job.

My aim is always to make sure that people are getting the most out of this tool and want to use it rather than feel forced to use it. The introduction of Office 365 has made this even more enjoyable and easier since it has so much to give!

Perhaps my ramblings above can be summed up perfectly from one of my favourite pieces of feedback left by a recent delegate.

“The trainer was very well informed, with real life knowledge of the products. Many trainers have never worked at the “coal face”, this man has and understands the trainee better for it”

Although I understand the reference made there I still laugh to myself every time I read it because if you know me, the idea of me, Steve, working somewhere I might get dirty is…well, let’s just say it’s never gonna happen.

Going back to the most recent ‘look’ in delegates eyes moment…

Unlock The Learning

The other day there was a delegate who worked in a salaries and pensions department.

After a quick chat with him at the outset of the course I immediately worked out that based on what he was telling me about how he used Excel I knew instantly what would give him that ‘look’.

He also mentioned Pivot Tables but like most people who are unaware of how they work it was a different kind of look he had in his eyes – ‘fear’.

I assured him that he would overcome this irrational fear without even realising.

As we were progressing through the course we came to the section covering lists so I helped him to use SUBTOTALS for the first time and waited for ‘the look’ – it was there, and he shared with me quite specifically how he would be using this newly learned feature. This is what I love! All these real-life examples of how people use Excel are how I, as someone in the learning industry – learn. They are helping me without even realizing.

I then got him to use TEXT TO COLUMNS, text functions such as CONCATENATE and there again came the ‘look’.

We then did one of my exercises that involved filtering lists and drawing on a whiteboard (you have to be there to appreciate it – trust me!)

When I told him what he’d just done was in fact, PIVOT TABLES he couldn’t believe how simple and effective they were. There was a ‘look’ but this time the pivot table fear had been replaced by excitement.

People often say to me ‘do you not get bored delivering the same courses all the time’ to which I reply that no two courses are ever the same because…

Different delegates, different stories, different questions, different…jokes…

When I then ask them if their job is different every day they usually reply “…well, no not really when I come to think about it” and I’m quite sure I can see a slightly jealous ‘look’.

So…what do you find rewarding in your job? How did you get to where you are today?

Share your stories with us – we love hearing them.

If you would like to discuss a training course so we can help you unlock ‘the look’ then please get in touch.

Author: Steve McPherson