When revising your P-Card training and considering the needs of trainees, look further than just their job titles. Drill down to some specific characteristics that can impact which training approaches you decide to implement. The other “people part” of the equation is the trainer. Assigning this role to the P-Card program manager or administrator is not the only option. At the 22nd National Cards and Payments on Campus Conference earlier this year, breakout session speaker Helen Kubiak, CPCP, from Lone Star College addressed a wide range of P-Card training aspects. Below, I am sharing her tips related to both trainees and trainers, including what to prepare for that you might not expect. Giving more thought to the “who” portion of a training plan improves the chances of everyone having a positive experience.
Who Will Be Trained?
We know that mandating training for cardholders and managers is a best practice, but, as Helen stressed during her conference session, one size does not fit all. I completely agree. Beyond job titles, cardholders and managers alike will possess different attitudes, computer skills, training preferences, etc. Helen recommends asking trainees what they need and then responding accordingly. For example, senior-level cardholders may want one-on-one training in the privacy of their office. Others might feel most comfortable with online, on-demand training.
When it comes to classroom training on the technology they will use, avoid mixing computer novices with those who are computer fluent. If they are together, the pace will either be too fast or too slow, and a portion of the audience will be frustrated. After the initial training, Helen endorses regularly offering open computer lab times with trainers on hand to help cardholders reconcile their transactions.
Finally, prepare for pushback. Helen described how a trainee once surprised her by asking, “I was hired to do X, so why do I have to do these administrative tasks?” In my career, I encountered pushback from a manager who thought P-Cards added work to his department. When I described the purchase-to-pay process with and without cards, he was able to see that P-Cards provided more benefits overall. In addition, I reiterated how the P-Card program was supported by senior management.
Who Should Deliver the Training?
As the subject matter expert (SME), the P-Card program manager or administrator (PM/PA) is a natural choice. They know the frequently asked questions and common P-Card situations to cover during training. However, an SME is not always the best trainer. They might know their stuff, but fail to engage an audience and/or not be comfortable in the role.
Some organizations centralize their internal training needs by having a designated training department cover a variety of topics. Would it make sense to add P-Card training to their list? Helen acknowledges that it can be hard for the PM/PA to relinquish the trainer role, but it could be worth evaluating if your organization has the capability. I think that this arrangement would work best for a virtual, on-demand platform. The PM/PA could provide a script that the trainer uses to create a polished, finished product. In a classroom setting, an organization trainer might not be equipped to answer detailed P-Card questions from trainees.
No matter who delivers the training, ensure they have the right skills, which might mean they should attend a class geared toward trainers. Even good trainers are susceptible to what Helen identifies as losing energy over time. She shared, “Sometimes when you think you’re in a groove [as a trainer], you’re really in a rut.” This can happen when a trainer is so familiar with the material that he or she goes into auto-pilot mode. You have to seek ways to keep the energy level up and the content fresh. Helen even suggests incorporating some humor into in-person training sessions when appropriate.
Motivated trainers who are willing to mix things up and cater to the needs of trainees will see a payoff for their efforts. During her session, Helen nicely summed up P-Card training by expressing, “Empowered (trained) employees contribute to program growth.” Absolutely!
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About the Author
Blog post author Lynn Larson, CPCP, is the founder of Recharged Education. With 20 years of Commercial Card experience, her mission is to make industry education readily accessible to all. Learn more…