The InCorporate Trainer role

A day in the life of Jay Massey

“I have 30+ years of experience teaching business English in Asia, Europe and North America. I joined Target Training in 2008, working with clients from sectors such as healthcare, real estate, automotive, energy, process control and manufacturing.

Even with a full schedule of training sessions, it is what comes in between that brings diversity into my workdays. My participants range from managers to office assistants, and from HR specialists to young apprentices. All use English in their jobs – but to different extents and with different needs.”

Jay Massey

8:30-9:00

Prepare for first training session

With my day fully planned in advance, I arrive at my desk to find an email marked “urgent”. I had wanted to review my folder before my 9 o’clock 1-to-1 session. Instead I open the email to see if I can take care of it before the lesson starts. Luckily it’s short – Simone, one of the sales assistants, needs to send a mass email this morning. I phone her and together we fine-tune a few phrases.

I quickly correct the errors in the mail and return it to her, along with the comment that I will get back to her later with some follow-up examples to clarify a language point. I get to the training room with less than a minute to spare.

9:00-10:00

1-to-1 session

I have a 1-to-1 session with Inge. She’s very talkative and the challenge is always to stop these sessions from losing direction. She’s going to talk me through the new compliance laws. This helps us to double-check the vocabulary she needs, helps her to get her thoughts clear, and gives us a chance to practice her presentation skills.

My initial plan was to “play dumb” – and that’s not too difficult. The depth of the information she needs to present is staggering. At the end of the session we practice delivering the same information but in smaller, digestible chunks. This will be handy when she needs to make presentations using Netmeeting.

“My participants provide me with most of my training topics. By using day-to-day situations, the training is most effective and realistic for them and that makes it so much easier for me.”

10:00-11:00

Team Leader Group

Every week I run a training session with 4 team leaders. They use the opportunity to update each other on what is going on, and to discuss those things that they never have a chance to talk about. I tend to set them up with a meaty question and then sit back and observe, feeding back when necessary and stopping them when I see a gap or a chance to review certain structures. They enjoy having this “down time” and from a training perspective it’s great – fluency practice on relevant topics with specific feedback. The attendance is always high and now and again we agree to run a breakout session for them and their teams. The last one was on “communicating bad news”.

11:00-12:00

Email catch up & feedback

I grab a coffee and return to my desk. For Simone, I create a 5-minute email lesson. With that finished, I write up the feedback from the 9 o’clock session and send it off to Inge while our session is still fresh in our minds. I quickly check my emails again and find a request from a secretary who needs help with an email that has to be finished before lunch. She has attached a lengthy document full of various foreign city names written in their local language. With this short deadline I google “exonyms” and find a clever self-translating map which I send off to her straight away. I then ask my colleague Jennie to follow up with her later today.

12:00-12:45      

Lunch at desk

Today I opt for a sandwich and banana at my desk. While working at my desk, I get a call. Jörg wants me to look over some changes to a set of slides he’s made, and asks if he can pop over. When participants take the time to come to me, and my immediate work is not urgent, I simply drop what I am doing and take on whatever question is at hand.

On average, these interruptions take around 10 minutes, so it is not a big thing. Yet it’s exactly what on-the-job training is all about. Jörg’s question just gave me a good idea for my next planned session with his group – but I need to make sure I get the time to turn the idea into something more concrete.

A day in the life of Gary Anello

Gary talks about his day as an InCorporate Trainer, working in-house with clients to help them communicate more effectively in English.

12:45-14:45

Group session

Twice a week, I meet the apprentices for training. It’s not always the case that just because they are young, they have a high level of English. This is probably the most traditional ESL training I do. Although we use a client-requested book as a basis, my 39 apprentices are not really “book-learners”, so creativity becomes the operative word. Fortunately for me, they spend much of their time on the workshop floor learning how to use heavy machinery. Luckily, I love machines. As long as I remember to hold back on the conversation when a loss of concentration might contribute to a lost limb.

Chatting with them about their work while they are actually operating the machinery is interesting for me and most effective for them. They are practising the English they need, in an environment that is comfortable to them.

14:45 – 16:00

Plan a final coaching session

Last week two participants left a training session still feeling a little unsure of the English they had worked on that day. They were due to travel to a plant in Ohio to lead a seminar. I knew that I would have do something to alleviate their concerns and keep them positive about their upcoming trip. I decided to try to set up an ad-hoc coaching session before they left, in which I took the initiative. Both participants were relieved at having a few more chances to “get their English ready”.

Our final coaching session is tomorrow. I have assembled the vocabulary and phrases they struggled the most with, along with examples of use. The final list is ready to send, along with a set of instructions for our session. Tomorrow, I will act as a participant in the seminar, not as the trainer. They will have to deliver their seminar as they want to deliver it in Charlestown.

16:00-16:30      

Preparation

I have a very busy day tomorrow with 2 training groups in the morning, and a group plus a 1-to-1 in the afternoon. I’m stumped for the afternoon group so I look back at the training plans we agreed on 2 months ago to refresh my memory. Ah, “Dealing with Complaints” is next for one of the groups. I do a quick search on Arthur, our document management system where all the trainers store their better materials, and find something relevant developed by Ken. Normally I need to adapt these sort of materials but this is great the way it is. That’s taken some of the pressure off.

16:30 – 17:30

Looking for work

I end the day by doing a quick tour of one of the departments I’m responsible for and seeing whether there is anything I can help them with. It’s important to keep on top of those participants who are too busy or who I haven’t seen for a while. Humor tends to work well – and now and again I need to be a little more tenacious. I approach Horst and ask him if he’s written any mails recently. He tries to wriggle out of the question by saying they’re only short and not important but I convince him to print them out for me. As he’s printing them out he asks me for help with a short presentation he has to give. I pull up a chair and he offers me a coffee. No sugar, lots of cream, just the way I like it.

“When participants take the time to come to me, and my immediate work is not urgent, I simply drop what I am doing and take on whatever question is at hand. On average, these interruptions take around 10 minutes, so it is not a big thing. Yet it’s exactly what on-the-job training is all about. “

Living in Germany

Jay has been an InCorporate Trainer since 2008. Here he talks about his experience of living in the beautiful country of Germany.