I came across this article the other day and was stuck by Jim Baston’s main message: managers can significantly improve training outcomes by enthusiastically participating in training with their teams. I’ve personally seen this demonstrated many times. Jim has taken the time to observe and analyze just how and why it makes a difference. There’s a lot of value in his recommendations. ~ Stephanie Reyes
6 Ways to Get the Most out of Training your Team
Service managers often ask me if they should attend our Proactive Service® workshop with their technicians. My answer is always “yes” and I explain ways to get the most out of training their service tech team. Although I am enthusiastic about the manager attending, this is a somewhat qualified response because these benefits of attending can be outweighed by how the manager acts during the workshop itself. Too often, I find the manager in the back corner of the room, huddled over their laptop or frantically texting someone on their phone. Frequently they will leave the room for long periods of time. To me, this is a lost opportunity and can actually have a negative impact on the training. Here are the 6 ways to participate effectively and get the most return for your training investment:
- Kick off the session. This allows you to put the training into perspective for the attendees. Introduce the topic and why it is critical for the business. Show them how the skills that will be learned will be of benefit to the participants. Introduce the speaker and explain why you have chosen that person to lead the group.
- Be fully engaged in the exercises. Roll up your sleeves and work with your team as they complete the exercises and discussions. This gives you the opportunity to add key points that you want to reinforce and to get a sense of how your team is responding to the training. Be careful not to talk too much which brings us to the next point.
- Let your team do most of the talking. In our enthusiasm, it is easy to get carried away and do most of the talking. We sometimes feel as if we should know all the answers and, as a result, we jump in too quickly to fill in the blanks. When the team looks to you for the “right” answer, turn the question back to them. For example, you might say something like: “You experience this sort of thing first hand, what do you think we should do in this situation?’
- Have relevant examples ready that tie the learning into the everyday reality. Whenever possible, obtain a copy of the training materials in advance and review the content carefully. Identify some specific examples that correspond to some of the key learning points. Be ready to bring them up in group work and general discussions when appropriate. This will help make the learning more relevant for participants and helps them grasp some of the more complex concepts.
- Network. Avoid ducking out at breaks and lunches to do “real” work. Although you may have to deal with telephone calls and requests from others, try to keep these to a minimum. Use your time to network with your team. Talk up the course, ask for their feedback and take a genuine interest in their success.
- Have fun. Just because training is a serious business, you don’t have to refrain from having fun. In fact, studies have shown that people learn more in a positive atmosphere and when they are enjoying themselves. You can help your team learn more by loosening up a bit, being positive and taking steps to contribute to an enjoyable time.
Taking people out of the field for training is a major investment for any company. A few simple steps can increase the effectiveness of the training in achieving skills adoption and behaviour change and ensure a higher return on your investment. By attending, you, the manager, clearly communicate how important the initiative is. It allows you the opportunity to observe your team, how they react to the material and identify possible areas for further focus. It provides the opportunity to enhance the discussion with real-life examples that participants can readily relate to.
“Do more than belong: participate. Do more than care: help. Do more than believe: practice. Do more than be fair: be kind. Do more than forgive: forget. Do more than dream: work.” – William Arthur Ward
Jim Baston is an author, trainer and consultant to the technical services sector. He developed the Proactive Service® training program designed to reduce staff turnover, improve customer satisfaction and retention rates and generate more profitable contracts.
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