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Best Training Practices
Will Kenny
3927 York Ave N
Robbinsdale, MN 55422
612-978-3050

Are Your Best Training Tools Lying Around Unused?

everyday business communication tools can make a huge difference

(reprinted from The Training Tipsheet)

Any specialist likes new toys, the latest thing, the fanciest gadgets. As training specialists, we are always looking for new tools to help us deliver our services to our internal or external customers.

These days, a lot of those tools are online in one sense or another, from easy ways to build online coursework to podcasts and blogs to tracking and scheduling aids and more. These are the items that scream at us from trade journal advertisements, or pop up in our mailboxes (e- and actual), or get us calls from service providers. These are the things we are dying to try out.

Meanwhile, many of the most powerful tools to boost the impact, and the long term application, of the training we deliver have been with us all along. They are the basic tools of business communication, and they are often sadly neglected as we chase fads and pursue the latest versions of the newest training software and services.

One of the problems that comes with many sophisticated training tools is that they tend to isolate the trainee. Online courses are often completed alone, with little interaction with other participants, with trainers, or most importantly, with their own departments and their supervisors. Training "events" are sharply delineated from everyday business life, minimizing the transfer of lessons taught into behaviors performed on the job.

That makes it all the more important, in the modern training environment, to integrate training activities into daily business, to encourage contact with peers and superiors as participants learn. In a world where less training is done in a classroom, we should compensate for what we lose with that shift -- and make no mistake, there are learning costs that go along with the enhanced efficiency of online and self-study approaches -- by helping those we train to exchange ideas, learn from one another, and apply their new skills and knowledge.

And it doesn't take a lot of investment, or fancy software, to enhance results:

  • Extend contact with participants over time. Contact them -- e-mail, phone call, even the occasional printed note -- a few times before the "event," and a few times after. Give them pre-work and follow-up questions, all of which they will process at their desks, not in a classroom or webinar or other isolated training situation.
  • Require collaboration. Build in activities where participants work with others to learn, and to apply what they have learned.
  • Engage supervisors and managers. Get them to review pre-work or homework. Enlist them in call-in question and answer sessions. Drag them into the classroom. Ask them for case study examples, or pet peeves.

It all comes down to talking to people more; talking to more people; and getting people to talk more amongst themselves. Taking an old-fashioned approach with easily available tools can greatly enrich the training process, significantly enhance its impact, and speed up application of best practices, all at very little cost.

The main investment is your time and mental energy. Why not put in the effort to think about how you can create a "wrap-around" of communication that supports your oh-so-efficiently delivered training material?

© 2010 Best Training Practices -- Will Kenny

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