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Best Training Practices
Will Kenny
3927 York Ave N
Robbinsdale, MN 55422

Where's the Bun?

beefing up your best practices training . . .

(reprinted from The Training Tipsheet)

The "beef" of your training activity, on a particular business practice, is often an event. It may be a live facilitated seminar, or a scripted staff meeting with training aids for the meeting leader. It could be an online course, or a self-study packet of some kind.

Whatever the format of the event, you can add flavor, and help participants get all the "nutrients" out of that event, by wrapping it in a "bun" that prepares them for the activity, and follows up with them afterward.

Warm them up

Let's say you've scheduled a morning seminar for next week. (But remember that this could apply to any training event or tool, as long as you know who the participants are, and when they'll do the training activity). A couple of days before the event, each participant gets a question or suggestion from you, related to the training:

  • Ask them to bring an example of some situation they've faced, related to the topic -- especially a situation they didn't quite know how to handle.
  • Tell them something interesting about what they'll be doing in the training, helping them visualize the event in a positive way.
  • At the very least, preview the desired outcome in terms of how they'll do their jobs afterwards. Don't say they'll "know more" about some topic, tell them what that will do for them, that they'll work faster, get better results, help themselves and the company.

In short, engage them, with whatever content and style is appropriate and effective.

Follow up

Then, a week or so after the event, contact them again. You could ask:

  • Do they have any questions?
  • How has the training made a difference in the way they work?
  • What feedback did they think of after the event that they'd like to mention?
  • What additional information or training would help them apply what they learned?

Keep it short, and only deal with one item, don't try to cover several questions or issues in a single contact. Remember, there's no reason you can't follow up with another contact a week later. Multiple follow-ups help keep the training or meeting content fresh in the participants' minds, and that means they have more opportunities to apply what they learned in actual working conditions. (See my tutorial that demonstrates how to use multiple follow-ups to enhance the impact of your event.)

And don't forget . . .

  • You don't have to contact everyone in person or by phone. You can broadcast e-mails, or even voice-mails, for greater efficiency.
  • At the same time, don't assume that e-mail is the best option. Everyone's e-mailbox is overflowing these days, and it's easy to get lost. If it's a small event, consider personally calling people, or having an assistant do so. Or think about mailing them postcards (yes, the old-fashioned way), even internally. A basic postcard from you, with a simple question or suggestion on the back, gets their attention, it's an unusual approach.
  • Include your own contact information with every message, however you reach them. If they have a question or comment, and they can't easily call or e-mail you, they'll just be frustrated (and that's no attitude to bring to your event).
  • Make your follow up specific. "Was the training helpful?" is way too broad. Refer to some details of the training, and tie them explicitly to what the training was supposed to achieve -- which should be some measurable change in the way people do their jobs.

The challenge "Where's the beef?" has become a cliché these days, but to maximize the impact of your events and get the best return on your investment, in terms of performance, don't forget to ask the question:

"Where's the bun?"

© 2007 Best Training Practices -- Will Kenny

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