Nine Tips for Getting the Most from Your Training Time

You’ve found just the right trainer to address your team’s challenges, booked him or her and now, finally, the day is here! Your trainer is onsite and is ready to teach your team.

But is your team ready?

Some employees see training days, in-service days, or onsite workshops as “light” days, when employees can simply “show up” without the responsibility of actually being actively engaged. But this certainly isn’t the best way to get the most from your training event, nor likely will the employees actually absorb – and adopt – the behaviors you’re hoping for.

So how can an HR or Training Department ensure they get the most from their onsite training event?

  • Consider doing Pre-Work. Just like pre-work for meetings can help make meetings more effective, giving your employees a “homework” assignment to do prior to the training day can help them get into the frame of mind that this is still “work” and that there are expectations. However, try to be creative with the homework. For example, employees could use a simple Google Document form to submit responses to questions such as “Considering your most recent performance review, what is one goal you’d like to accomplish during next week’s XYZ Training?” or “Submit a recent example of a common email you have to send regularly.”
  • Address potential roadblocks in advance. One of the biggest issues trainers face is that employees are muti-tasking – trying to address deliverables or tasks happening in their job and yet still try to glean information during the training session. Have your employees treat the training time just like they would a vacation day. What proactive steps would they take prior to going on vacation – such as establishing a vacation auto-responder email message, notifying other employees of potential delays in deliverables, and establishing an alternate/urgent contact for voice messages.
  • Make the training applicable. Adult learners need to see the connection between what they’re being asked to learn and what they do on a regular basis.  If half of your employees need help with their public speaking skills, while the rest are a little more advanced, consider offering two different sessions for advanced and beginners or only involve those who really need the help.
  • Make the training relevant to their performance. Draw a clear connection between the employees’ performance reviews and the training and how this training can help them improve their performance reviews for the next evaluation period.
  • Set the tone from the beginning. Help employees understand that their “job” today is to attend training and to master the skills being taught today. Set the expectation that learning – just like doing their job – is active, not passive, which includes not multitasking, and staying focused on the training at hand.
  • Kick off the meeting the right way.  Have a manager – such as perhaps the manager for the people being trained or the HR manager -- kick off the training by introducing the trainer, highlight why he or she was selected, and how their training will help the employees in the room perform their roles better.
  • Include a monitor or manager involvement. Sometimes, just the mere presence of the company's management helps reinforce the message that employees need to pay attention during the training. Sometimes it’s also helpful to involve a manager periodically during the training as a “guest speaker” or evaluator during training.
  • Put their learning into action. All too often, employees go to trainings or conferences with the best of intentions. They learn amazing new ideas or have thoughts on how to improve their work… and then once they come back, the learnings get forgotten, put in a file and are ultimately lost. Change doesn’t just come from learning new information – but from putting it into action.  Help your employees immediately apply what they’ve learned by finding a few ways to immediately implement their new knowledge. Even just implementing one or two new ideas can make a world of improvement.
  • Consider implementing a post-training follow up. Sometimes people need time to effect real change. So consider offering a post-training follow-up plan where the trainees establish their own goals for change or actions to implement, and then have periodic email group follow-ups to encourage change. You can also have a post-training group get together 30 days after the training to see how everyone’s doing and to record how those changes have impacted their workflows/jobs or outcomes (which would be beneficial for the training department to record!)

Remember, help your team understand that learning isn’t a passive activity!  Training is designed to affect change.  That happens only when participants engage and participate fully.  


Want to help your team take their "soft skills" to the next level? Check out our books (Amazon) and courses.

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