Start at the Top

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At the end of July, we shared 7 Tips for Helping Expand Use of Virtual Training Within Your Organization.

Beginning with last month, we’re fleshing out and expanding on each of these tips in a bit more depth. We recently discussed tip #1 – WIIFM.

This month, we move right on to number two – “Start at the Top.”  Managers and upper management MUST be on-board with the training, as well.  They must clearly see how the training will be effective for both employees and the business, and they need to advocate and support it internally.  Employees can sense when their training is brushed aside by managers as non-effective, pointless, and optional.  Make sure that management understands its importance, and have them communicate that personally to their teams.

Employees look to their leaders for validation, direction, and reassurance. When a training initiative is announced, employees will look to their managers for a guarantee that this training is necessary and effective. And I feel the best way to learn is to actually have them take a test drive of the car – or in this case, have them attend the training first, so they know (and most importantly, they understand) what their employees will be learning. This will hopefully allow managers to actually ask questions, give feedback to upper management about the format and content of the training (for example, is the session topic too broad? Too long? Not relevant to their current positions?), and to help tweak it for maximum effectiveness. This also allows the managers to help prepare their teams for the training (by perhaps providing pre-work to review, or openly discussing the topics, format, and expectations with their teams beforehand), and even better, help them reinforce what their employees have learned afterwards.

For example, if the training session involves learning some advanced computer (or sales, or negotiation) skills, the manager can set up follow-up sessions to help their employees practice and finetune what they have learned in role-plays or group activities, where each employee gets to be either the customer/prospect or the employee, or gets a test project to complete. Real-life examples of past experiences can be used, and each manager can see where each of their team member’s strengths and weaknesses are, and help tailor future follow-up sessions accordingly.

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Source: CoSo