Magazine article Talent Development

The Speed of Business: New Economy, New Methods for Training. (Training 101)

Magazine article Talent Development

The Speed of Business: New Economy, New Methods for Training. (Training 101)

Article excerpt

Scenario 1: A two-day training session on strategic planning and problem solving brings 17 executives together. During the lunch break, eight of them ask the regional group president to be excused. "I have urgent, pressing business piling up on my desk," one of them explains. "All we accomplished this morning was introducing ourselves and making lists on flipcharts." "I really don't have time for this, "echoes another.

Scenario 2: A vice president of a ma]or defense contracting company takes a call from one of his key directors who is attending a two-day leadership training session. "How's it going?" the VP asks. He listens, hangs up the phone, then turns to you and says, "He says it's a total waste of time. All they've done in the past five hours is set the agenda and played a few touchy-feely games. But I think he'll find some value in it tomorrow when they get down to the real stuff. He really needs to improve his leadership skills."

Do those scenarios sound familiar?

"Leadership and interpersonal skills are just as important to running a business as are technical skills," you rationalize. True, but have you considered that maybe your treasured training design models don't meet the needs of your clients?

Following are a few pointers that we've compiled over the years by talking with countless managers and executives. These tips can go a long way towards building credibility for training programs.

Trash outdated design methods. All training and development professionals learn the same process to start a class: Begin with an icebreaker; spend time on introductions, climate setting, and expectations; and then go into the agenda and objectives. Translation: two to three hours of wasted, fidget time--also known as "touch-feely trainer stuff"--for busy managers and executives. The business world is moving and changing too rapidly for that model to stick.

A new model should quickly address these questions:

* Why are we here today?

* What value will you get out of this session, and how will you be able to use what you learn immediately back on the job?

* What specifically will you learn, and what will we do in this session to help you apply it later?

Do away with old tools. Why do trainers write everything on a flipchart? Typical answer: So that they can refer to it later. But it's an annoying and slow practice, and often participants don't care whether the information is referred to later. Trainers don't have to spoon-feed obvious points to managers. Flipcharts have their place in the training toolbox, but if you ask your customers what they think, they'll most likely tell you that flipcharts are overused.

Another outdated tool is the pair up with a partner exercise. Most managers don't want to participate in one-on-one discussions of concepts and theories. But trainers who adhere to the traditional training world view insist that experiential activities be used to introduce new ideas in order to make training active. Time invested for that exercise: one hour. Advice: bad idea.

Ditch that model, too. If an activity doesn't add absolute value to the session, don't do it. A training session shouldn't consist of only a lecture. But adding an activity just for the sake of variety isn't effective. If it's application you're after (and you should be), have the group work on a real case study. Participants will be willing and eager to share real-world experiences. …

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