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

Are Benefits Highlighted in your Training Catalog?

tell them how you'll improve things, not what you will "do"

(reprinted from The Training Tipsheet)

In any fair sized organization, large enough to have a training function, there is either a formal or an informal course catalog. Some companies have lists of courses that employees can enroll in, or that managers can send their employees to. Others don't "publish", in paper or online, a real catalog. But there are a number of standard courses, and at least informally, there are standard descriptions of objectives and of appropriate audiences for those courses.

When a manager or supervisor debates whether to send a particular employee to a specific course, then, or when employees make those decisions for themselves, they are deciding based on benefits. The manager asks, "How will my department be better off after this employee finishes this training?"

Unfortunately, the course descriptions -- even if they are only informal descriptions delivered at staff meetings or in response to e-mail or phone enquiries -- tend to be process-based, not benefit-focused. In other words, they are descriptions of what the training staff will do, rather than how the participants and their departments will benefit.

For example, suppose the issue is safely operating equipment of some kind. A typical training blurb for an equipment safety course has objectives such as, "Participants will learn proper procedures for safely operating the XYZ." That's all well and good, but why not preface that with the favorable outcome the company seeks: "Accidents are costly to both the company and the individuals. Learning proper operating procedures of the XYZ can reduce accidents, saving time, money, and inconvenience for everyone."

Or perhaps the topic is customer service, especially responding to complaints. Will participants in the training "be presented with recommended techniques for fielding and responding to complaints from customers efficiently and effectively?" Who cares? Let employees and managers know that "This course helps the company retain customers, even in the face of problems, and reduces stress on employees who handle complaints by giving them the tools to resolve issues quickly."

It is a matter of answering the basic "Why would I take this course?" question at a higher level. They often see answers that are basically, "to learn A, B, and C." But the best training departments also explain "Why?" at the level of, "to help the company" and "to help myself."

Look at benefits-focused descriptions as the first part of the actual training. That is, by setting expectations for beneficial outcomes, by leading participants and their supervisors to expect some tangible benefit to the organization and the individual from the training, you enhance their interest in focus in the training once they sign up. One of the benefits of highlighting benefits is a more engaged body of participants.

Your course catalog, formal or informal, is how you "sell" your training internally. A little better selling technique, by highlighting benefits, will ensure that more people, and the right people, take advantage of your training services so they can make a greater contribution to the success of your company.

© 2013 Best Training Practices -- Will Kenny

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