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The Career Path of a Triple Threat: Trainer, Coach, and HR Specialist

In this interview, part-time business owner Marc Lavoie divulges his career path and gives our readers some great resources.

Q. How are you involved in the training world?

At present I run my own part-time business as a Coach, Trainer, and HR Generalist. In essence, I have a passion for Organizational Development and Self-Actualization.

Much of my work is customized to the personal and business needs of my clients. My target audience is typically small to medium sized businesses, entrepreneurs and professionals in need of support: to reach their personal goals; improve the quality of their relationships or lives; or implement the changes they need to improve business results.

The foundation of my business is built on a personalized trusted relationships with each client where any issue can be explored in safety and without consequence. I find this an important and necessary component to creating a framework where dreaming the future become more possible.

I lend my expertise to discerning perspectives, exploring options, strategizing suitable solutions and provide the development and implementation expertise necessary to get the work off the ground and up and running.

I thought I would give writing a go and so I am writing two books at the moment. One is on Performance Management and the other is on Power Principle for Everyday Leadership. These are not the titles per say but give you an idea of the subject matter.

Q. What has your career path been like?

I started working when I was 14 as a lifeguard and swimming instructor for the YMCA. Those experiences got me hooked on facilitation, being of service and helping others people master improvement.

By the time I was 22, I had a list of the “areas of knowledge and abilities” I wanted to master in my own life. This lead to an eclectic career driven by the need to live a purposeful life and to become as self-actualized as I could.

When I finished high school, I worked in Hospitality Food Service and the Retail Sector to learn about customer service and business basics. Then came Recreation Leadership where I learned to develop programs and workshops for community centers and the public.

I transitioned to Ambulance & Emergency Care / Paramedic Medicine to learn about medicine and managing crisis. This lead to eventually working with the terminally ill, youth at risk, and the differently-abled, and provided me with a well-rounded perspective on social and poverty issues.

From there I found my way to Employment Counseling and eventually Human Resources and Coaching. This work centers on individual leadership and business service improvements.

As a lifelong learner, formal education has been a rather constant companion on my journey. I love practical education and so I am always taking something to improve my knowledge and knowhow.

This has lead to several certificates and diplomas in a variety of subjects. I’m quite proud of the fact that I have taken over 250 classes and workshops aimed at making me a little smarter then I was the day before. I use all this accumulated knowledge and knowhow to help my clients improve their lives and businesses.

Some years ago I picked up the nickname “General Mister Fix-it”. I’m very proud of that.

A constant throughout the years has been training and professional development. This launched the consulting side of my career back in my early twenties and I have carried it through to present day.

Over the years my career has balanced traditional employment against consulting work in business development, training and facilitation, employment relations, leadership development, and human resources. This kept me well rounded.

More recently, Corporate Coaching for leadership development has spiked my interest. Many great leaders are struggling with how to evolve their workforce in environments that are heavy and complicated bureaucracies. My job then as I see it, is to help leaders become better leaders.

Q. How do your roles of Coach, Trainer, and HR specialist differ from each other? How are they the same?

Everything I do centers around people and the results they produce or want to produce for themselves and others. This remains true for me as a trainer, HR Specialist and as a Coach.

Trainer As a trainer, the work focuses on expanding someone’s abilities by facilitating their ability to learn, retain and use new or existing knowledge.

I’m not a strong believer in managing change. Change naturally happens as a result of movement, either through deliberate effort or as a result of a decay cycle. I think it is more effective and important to manage learning, transformation and growth toward desired outcomes.

The end result might still look like change but you get a richer, more authentic buy-in when you realize that change is about helping people adapt and grow. This works best when the desired change has meaning, individual and personalized meaning, for the learner. This holds true when a worker sees them self as an essential stakeholder in the success and livelihood of the organization they work for.

In HR, the work is very multi-faceted. At the heart of it all, HR attempts to create a purposeful infrastructure for the responsive, efficient and effective use of the human workforce in an organizations. This is not an easy task.

HR Specialist As an HR professional, building an HR framework that is sound legally, financially and makes good business sense is essential to the business. Within that framework you find a balance of organizational and individual goals and needs. Sometimes that balance is not very healthy.

This happens when the needs of the organization as a machine and a system clash with the needs of people for humanity in the relationships, processes and outcomes. For the organization that means having clear plans, expectation and systems for supporting people to get the most important work of the organization done.

For people, that means providing them with the resources and incentives necessary to support good organizational citizenship and partnership while ensuring that these same people are well suited to their job tasks and can maintain a healthy and productive work-life balance.

When we become better people, we become better parents, friends and workers. In the workplace, this can only happen if the organization actually take a real interest in the development and welfare of the worker as strategic partners in the business. The same is true in reverse.

The worker needs to take a real interest in the development and welfare of the organization as strategic partners in the business. In a perfect world, there is no compromise from either side, just great partnership. As organizations and workers, we haven’t mastered how to do that yet. I help with this function through leadership development and self-mastery.

Coach As a coach, I help uncover what matters most to people. You would be surprise to learn how often there is no real help for the leaders in an organization.

As workers, we generally assume that managers in an organization should have superior knowledge, knowhow or access to resources to help the do their jobs. This is all too often not true at all.

I had a client tell me once, a CEO of a large organization in Calgary, that the biggest lie in their organization was they believe that management knows what it is doing. Think about that for a minute.

Who helps leaders become great leaders? Who helps workers become great workers? Most of us stumble around trying to get it right on our own. Many of us fail over and over again.

Coaching makes use of a trusted relationship to explore issues and empowers individuals, workers and leaders alike, to develop more learnable intelligence: when you combine experiential and reflective intelligence to start living a life by design.

This approach inherently draws on a person’s natural motivation and self-determination to forge ahead with persistence and resilience to produce meaningful results in any or all areas of the individual’s life. As a coach, I help people evolve.

Q. What kind of resources (books, blogs, magazines) do you read for inspiration?

My reading tastes are quite eclectic. I like books. There is something about holding a book in hand, flipping the crisp pages, smelling and feeling the texture of the paper that appeals to my tactile senses.

I’m one of those people who likes to browse the university bookstores. I’m drawn to textbooks on organizational development, leadership, communication, business and psychology.

Some of my favorite authors include Peter Drucker, Liz Wiseman, Jason Fried, and Malcolm Gladwell. I also like Jim Clemmer, Tim Ferris, Hugh McLeod, Seth Godin, Tom Peters, and more recently Jay Elliot. Like I said, eclectic.

I subscribe to my HR and coaching association newsletters, the Harvard Business Review, as well as a few blogs like the HR Daily Advisor, Evil HR Lady and Ramey’s Canadian HR Blog, just to name a few.

Inspiration for me can come in many forms. Reading material, an intriguing movie or TV show, listening to someone tell a good story, or bearing witness to a real human moment between people.

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