Human Resources

The Trainer’s Call

Successful training requires emotional energy and strong interaction with students.

February 09, 2012
/ PRINT / ShareShare / Text Size +

“If you’re doing your job well, you should be exhausted!”

That is what Shelby Samuell, training manager at Alabama Telco Credit Union in Birmingham, told us when we asked what personal strategies she uses to keep motived, inspired, and energetic.

“Proper training requires a lot of emotional energy and strong interaction with your students,” she says. Amen.

As trainers, we know that we’re often left to our own devices to stay inspired. Budgets are tight, training dollars are few, and time seems to be always slipping away.

But, being the upbeat, creative types that we are, credit union trainers are never at a loss for ideas to lead inspired careers. We polled trainers across the country, asking, “Where do you find your professional Gatorade?” What motivates you to perform your job well?”

Following are some common “sweet spots” where trainers find their creative and motivational bliss.

Wellsprings of motivation

Motivation. Inspiration. Energy.

These forces seemingly come from anywhere. But these are common wellsprings of motivation that get training professionals out of bed every morning.

Unsurprisingly, service is perhaps the most common inspirational factor among credit union trainers, who see their role as educators helping professionals perform their jobs better.

“As a trainer, my purpose is to help our employees develop themselves in their position within the credit union to achieve our purpose: People helping people,” says Ericka Valvillo of Shell Federal Credit Union, Deer Park, Texas.

By helping credit union professionals perform their duties, the credit union in turn runs more effectively. Consequently, members receive the best possible financial service.

This quality service spurs happier members, causes more members to join, and drives the credit union movement into the future. Setting off this chain reaction can, no doubt, be invigorating.

As some trainers look at the big picture of service, others see service on a one-on-one level.

“I teach financial tools in our community outreach program,” says Jenni Paramore of Directions Credit Union in Sylvania, Ohio. “I have had the opportunity to work with kindergarteners through senior citizens. I may find myself at a library, a shelter, a prison, a church, or a public school.

“But throughout these educational opportunities,” she continues, “my energy comes from reaching that one person whose attitude is changed by what they have learned in our programs. It doesn’t happen every time, but when it does it is worth all the effort!”

Trainers are teachers at heart and devote their lives to making a positive impact on their students. Seeing the positive change in their students is living proof that they’re making a difference.

Still, inspiration can come from outside classroom. Samuell advises credit union trainers to “use your time away from work to take care of yourself physically, emotionally, and spiritually. A balanced life style keeps you refreshed and ready to give 100%.”

Sometimes knowledge can come from seemingly irrelevant places. As trainers, we should know this better than anyone.

Finally, Erica Puga of FirstLight Federal Credit Union, El Paso, Texas, gets inspiration from her family, reminding us that sometimes it’s not what you do but who you do it for that makes all the difference.

MARLO FOLTZ is the director of blended learning for CUNA’s center for professional development. Contact her at 800-356-9655, ext. 4232.

Post a comment to this story


What's Popular

Popular Stories

Recent Discussion

Great article! Unfortunately, most employees don’t feel valued or appreciated by their supervisors or employers. In fact, research has shown that the predominant reason team members quit their jobs is because they don’t feel valued. This is in spite of the fact that employee recognition programs have proliferated in the workplace – over 90% of all organizations in the U.S. has some form of employee recognition activities in place. But most employee recognition programs are viewed with skepticism and cynicism – because they aren’t viewed as being genuine in their communication of appreciation. Getting the “employee of the month” award, receiving a certificate of recognition, or a “Way to go, team!” email just don’t get the job done. How do you communicate authentic appreciation? We have found people have different ways that they want to be shown appreciation, and if you don’t communicate in the language of appreciation important to them, you essentially “miss the mark”. Additionally, employees need to receive recognition more than once a year at their performance review. Otherwise, they view the praise as “going through the motions”. A third component of authentic appreciation is that the communication has to be about them personally – not the department, not their group, but something they did. Finally, they have to believe that you mean what you say. How you treat them has to match the words you use. If you are not sure how your team members want to be shown appreciation, the Motivating By Appreciation Inventory ( will identify the language of appreciation and specific actions preferred by each employee. You then can create a group profile for your team, so everyone knows how to encourage one another. Remember, employees want to know that they are valued for what they contribute to the success of the organization. And communicating authentic appreciation in the ways they desire it can make the difference between keeping your quality team members or having a negative work environment that everyone wants to leave. Paul White, Ph.D., is the co-author of The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace with Dr. Gary Chapman.

Your Say: Who should be Credit Union Magazine's 2014 CU Hero of the Year?

View Results Poll Archive