Careerfile: Life at the heavy-duty end of the training spectrum

Christine Hardy organises L&D at one of the UK’s largest heavy plant and equipment dealers and hirers. She talks about how important 360-degree assessments are to the training process.

What does your job involve?

I am responsible for developing, driving and delivering an organisational development strategy that supports the overall business strategy and challenges both now and in the future. This covers technical, sales, service and systems training, management and leadership development, engagement and change.

How many courses/events do you organise?

In 2007, we delivered more than 9,000 man days of training across our business in various areas including technical service engineering, sales, systems, soft skills, health, safety and environment and management and leadership development. Our biggest challenge last year was to develop and deliver training on a major software system to the whole of our Hewden business. We trained more than 40 operational trainers to then deliver the training over 1,800 man days in a seven-week period prior to a go live date when systems switched over.

What course/training are you working on now?

Our training and development strategy offers five tailored formal development programmes for leaders at every level from team leader to member of the executive group. We are currently working on the final two programmes to support our first line managers and middle managers.

How and why did you get into training?

I fell into training early in my career with Safeway and although have undertaken HR and generalist roles since then, I always knew it was my area of interest and my strength. I value the tangible and positive difference that training can make to people in their day-to-day work and broader life.

What’s the best or most memorable training event you’ve attended?

I completed a management development programme at Safeway called Aspire. It challenged us to identify a career path linked to our personal values and gave tools to help drive personal development that I’ve used ever since.

And the worst?

A train the trainer course delivered to experienced trainers to present a new induction programme. I won’t mention the company name – it was badly set up, with a patronising trainer and a group of delegates who didn’t understand why they were there. Not the best experience!

What’s key to putting on a successful course?

First, correctly identify the actual training needs of the individuals, and tailor the content to them and their style. Second, ensure you have a 360-degree process to ensure the person is supported in transferring their learning, such as a pre-meeting to set objectives with their manager and a follow-up to ensure activity or a change in behaviour happens.

How do you measure the impact of training?

We record the response to training through ‘happy sheets’, but we also use pre- and post-360-degree feedback mechanisms to measure. We are currently implementing a process of pre- and post-briefing with line managers to set development objectives and monitor post-event.

When you were younger, what did you want to be?

The influence of Blue Peter and the many summer expeditions to exotic Inca palaces made me want to be an archaeologist. The Time Team reality of sitting in the mud doesn’t appeal quite so much now

What, in life generally, really annoys you?

Rudeness, intolerance and bigotry.

What was the first record you bought?

A Night at the Opera by Queen

What book are you reading?

Atonement by Ian McEwan

Who’s your hero?

I really admire my mentor, Becky Ivers, who is supremely professional and knowledgeable, has fantastic work-life balance and has maintained the same funny, down-to-earth approach throughout her career from HR adviser to L&D director.

What’s the best piece of training/L&D advice you’ve been given?

Preparation, preparation, preparation.

How do you relax?

I like to make the most of the fresh air by hill walking or cycling, then rounding the day off with a great meal and a glass of wine.

Christine Hardy is the learning and development manager at Finning Group UK, based at Cannock in the West Midlands.

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