Summary: It’s time to consider the staffing needs for your Corporate University. You’ve assessed learning and determined resources, so you have a good idea of what parameters you’ll need to work within. Here are some ideas on hiring the right staff to move your project forward.

When considering the staffing needs of the University, there are two major considerations to make. First, go back to your original learning assessment and look carefully at the range of knowledge, skills, and abilities the University’s programs will be teaching. When you look at development and delivery staff, think about how you can match their knowledge, skills, and abilities to those uncovered in the assessment. Do you need a large group of strong sales trainers and designers, or is the need more operational? Is there a pool of strong coaches, achievers, or experts that you might be able to pull into the University?

Second, consider the infrastructure you’ve taken the time to create. How does the staff you’ll need to hire fit in with the reporting structure you’ve built? Does the available talent pool work with that structure, or do you need to make some changes to move forward? Do the needs of the population warrant a phased approach to your staffing, i.e. can you hire the operations group first and get them rolling, and then move to the sales group, the customer service group, etc? Once you’ve taken time to consider your original assessment and the infrastructure, take a look at hiring for individual job groups.

When looking at an instructional design area, you’ve already decided on the need for online and content designers. With online staff, the best thing to do is find your Learning Management System (LMS) manager first. He or she will be able to point out the skills needed to create training interventions that work with particular systems. Online designers with an instructional design background are the best to find – they can edit the content for the adult learning environment while creating the technical platform. But overall, you’ll want to look for people with skill in Flash, HTML, and content builders such as Captivate or Rapid Builder. These designers should also have a good eye for color, use of graphics, and appropriateness of fonts. Content instructional designers can typically come from many different backgrounds. As long as they know adult learning principles, instructional design processes, and can manage projects they can usually design anything with the right subject matter experts. For either type of designer, ask for a portfolio or samples of the work they’ve done in the past.

The University’s instructors are like ambassadors and marketers all wrapped into one. If participants have a good learning experience and feel like they can come back because of an instructor, you’ll have no problem filling the classrooms. When you look at your learning assessment, think about how much of the content is heavily internal to the organization and how much of it is general, like sales or customer service. This is one of the ways you can look for instructors. For the heavily internal content, like operations, look for those internal people who show a flair for coaching, mentoring, and communications in general. Ask the key managers and supervisors for recommendations – but do it carefully because you don’t want anyone to think that the University is raiding their talent pool. For the general content, you can look inside and outside the organization. Top sales and customer service trainers can adapt to any organizational standards, but it’s their personalities and abilities to connect with your audience that makes them stand out. For either group, it is imperative that you and other University managers ask for a brief presentation from each candidate in addition to their interviews. You’ll get a great picture of their presentation and communication skills that way.

Your managers will be the glue that holds the group together. If you already have an existing group of instructors, consider which ones have the talent and drive to move into management positions. This is an easy transition and you’ll have a manager that you may have already coached. Training and Development managers on the outside can be expensive, but in some ways you could be saving yourself time and money down the road by choosing one. In the same way you look for instructors, look for managers – both internally and externally.

In general, Corporate University associates should be “coachable”, well-respected in their fields, highly polished and professional, driven, willing to grow, and adaptive to change. When you find training professionals that have these competencies, your University will be well on its way.

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Bryant Nielson is heavily involved in the Corporate Training and Leadership and Talent space. He currently is the Managing Director for CapitalWave Inc and the training division, Financial Training Solutions. He brings a diverse corporate experience of organizational development, learning and talent development, and corporate training, that also includes personal coaching of top sales individuals and companies of all sizes. For the prior 4 years, Bryant was the Managing Director and Leadership and Talent Manager for Lengthen Your Stride! LLC. In this position, Nielson was the developer of all of the courses for MortgageMae University (MMU), the Realtor Development Center (RDC), and of Lengthen Your Stride! (LYS). In that position, he developed material, refined over many years of use and active training, and condensed the coursework and training to be high impact, natural learning, and comprehensive. Bryant has over 27 years of Senior Management experience encompasses running his own Training and mortgage firm, in New York City. He strongly believes that the corporate training is not to be static but should 'engage and inspire' students to greater productivity and performance.

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