How to put people first, not Powerpoint: Bigbank’s approach to the development of the internal trainers

Author: Estel Pukk, Head of WOW Support Services Area

Internal Trainer from Estonia, Group: ”I feel like we are slowly but surely organising an internal community that drives for making others and ourselves smarter people. I love it!”

One quite unique part of Bigbank’s way of working is how we have built up our community of internal trainers. We are operating in a highly regulated and technologically advanced field — digital financial services. The team of 400+ Bigbankers is scattered between 6 countries and 7 cities. To cover the business-critical training topics and ensure timely learning in all countries, we need ca 100+ internal trainers. How?

Generally, there are two options: 1) recruit dedicated (internal) trainers whose full-time job is to train people or 2) develop managers and senior level specialists to become good internal trainers.

In Bigbank, we favoured the 2nd option as establishing dedicated full-time trainer units in all countries is not economically feasible. All our managers and senior level specialists should know what high quality training means, how adult people learn and how to deliver internal trainings efficiently and effectively, at any time and at any place. Following this need, Kaarin Peet and I founded the Internal Trainers Academy in 2014 and developed in-house a 1.5-day White Belt aka beginners level training program for the Internal Trainers.

Since then, more than 90+ Bigbankers have gained the white belt level and done great trainings. I’m proud to share below the thoughts of Bigbankers who today consider training as part of their professional identity. And who are great at it.

To be or not to be an internal trainer?

Internal Trainer from Spain: ”Teaching is one of the best ways for learning and can be very gratifying, as it allows us to help our fellow colleagues and this way, improves our relations inside our working group.”

Internal Trainer from Estonia, Group: “You don’t need to become a professional trainer. White belt training will help you to do better at daily meetings and presentations, all of us need it. The benefit is crystal clear — if you are responsible for instructing your colleagues and you do it well, both parties benefit from it.”

Internal Trainer from Estonia, Group: “Of course, there’s a downside as well — when you participate at a training, you can mostly tell if the Internal Trainer has passed the White Belt or not. Sometimes it makes me sad if I see yet another 1-hour long Powerpoint presentation, where the trainer doesn’t even try to make it more interesting. So far, I have always recommended to attend to the White Belt training afterwards.”

Internal Trainer from Spain: “We all should constantly improve our professional skills and being able to teach our colleagues is an important one. In that sense, I really recommend to participate in our internal trainer White Belt training, because the training itself is one of the best I have ever assisted. Very well prepared and performed!”

Trainees and their needs are the only thing that matters

Internal Trainer from Estonia, Group: “Before (the WB training) I assumed, I have to feel good in front of the audience and the rest will sort it out itself, while I rattle off my content. Now I know that participants need to feel good about the learning process and have fun. Or the learning will not happen.”

Internal Trainer from Spain: “I learned the importance of not only teaching, but being more aware of my “students” (not an easy task at all, but very important).”

Internal Trainer from Lithuania: “I recommend the WB training to Bigbankers who deal directly with training/coaching other employees, and especially to team leaders and managers who manage employees. WB is of great support in rising the competence of training/ coaching you subordinates in daily basis and that is one the most important tasks of the manager.”

Training can take place anywhere and at any time

Internal Trainer from Spain: “I learned that training does not necessarily mean lecturing (gathering many people into one room), but can often be done in stand-up format at any moment and any place. I also did it before, but I did not pay attention to it. Now, I consciously try to use different methodologies that I learned during the internal trainer WB training even for a quick coffee chat.”

Internal Trainer from Spain: ”I pay more attention on how other people (seminars, conferences, tutorials, etc.) use different techniques and I analyse the efficiency of used materials and techniques and try to copy them. Before I just listened/ learned without stepping out of the student’s point of view.”

Internal trainer’s toolbox is useful, also in your everyday work

Internal Trainer from Lithuania: “WB training helped me understand the meaning, needs and logic of the training. There are many incredible tools, materials, which you can use to involve participants and keep their attention. How to use body language in your favour and more. Now, I first think what are the needs of training, which participants I should involve, what are the main objectives of training, what material and tools I will use, what impact will be on the participant’s performance.”

Internal Trainer from Estonia, Group: “I’m not as much afraid of standing in front of the group than before. And in my current job position it is very much needed. Feels good to add value for the company and my work is so much more exciting when you actually know your work has a meaning :)”

Internal Trainer from Spain: “Internal Trainer’s Roadmap is a very useful tool I wasn’t aware before. During the training, we went through each step of it and you get the template so that you can use it after the training. Really good overview of different teaching techniques: you get a list of different tools that you can use when planning your trainings (very useful, I would have liked to have it years ago when teaching English for 6–15 year old kids!). Each of us prepared a training on a random topic, using everything we learned and after that (and that is the best) all of us wrote our comments for the materials and presentation. That way I got really valuable feedback about what I could improve.”

Preparation makes it perfect.

Internal Trainer from Estonia, Group: „The biggest benefit of the WB training was definitely learning about the preparation for the training. When you think through and understand why the training is needed and what helps you to deliver it, the delivery part becomes so much easier.”

Internal Trainer from Spain: ”The biggest change has been regarding the training preparation. Before, most of my effort went on preparing the materials (PowerPoints), now thinking through the content trying to use as little written materials as possible and more illustrative examples from real life that make learning more efficient and fun.”

Internal Trainer from Estonia, Group: ”Now, before each public presentation or meeting where training can be included, I take time to think through in structured way how I will deliver it. Emphasis is on the word structural and this is the structure I learned during the WB training. So far, I have succeeded and been better every time and got better feedback than those few times when I did not have time to prepare.”

We continue organising WB level trainings each year and at least 1 training in each country of operation. One of this year goals is to develop a Yellow Belt level in-house training program.

Estel Pukk
Head of WOW Support Services Area
Internal trainer of internal trainers in Bigbank since 2013