Maximizing the Value of Training

During a time of budget reductions, it’s more important than ever to get the most out of every dollar we spend. When it comes to training, our investment includes both the money that is spent and the time that is put in by the participants. This means that effective planning and thorough follow-through are crucial in getting maximum value from the experience.

Assess the Needs
As with any group of people, there are many areas in which an organization can improve. So when we are deciding how to spend our training budget we must focus in on the area(s) that will provide the most benefit. You should meet with management to determine the organizations greatest development needs and look to the future direction and goals of the organization as you establish learning objectives for teams and individuals.

Shop Around
The price of training can vary greatly and you don’t always get more just because you pay more. I must admit a bias in this area, but I feel that the boutiques will generally give a better value than the gargantuan training organizations. That being said, you must do a little more research to make sure that the smaller organization will meet your expectations. But don’t shop for price alone. Other factors will have as much or more to do with the overall value you receive. Learn how the training will be conducted, the style of the trainer and the process that he or she will follow. Finally, make sure you really understand what the training organization will provide and what responsibilities will be yours.

Once you feel you have narrowed your search down to two or three options, it is time to determine if the training organization can deliver what they’ve promised.
Check References – Ask for a current set of references from organizations that have conducted similar training and actually call them. The supplier will obviously give you only their best references, but with good questioning you will be able to ascertain their level of competence.
Observe – Either sit in on at least a couple of hours of a program or get a video sample of the person who will actually present in front of your staff. It is important for you to be comfortable with both the content of the material and the style of the presenter.

After deciding upon the training you want conducted, some work must still be done prior to class time.
Room Set – If the training will be held at your site, or you are responsible for the location, you should ensure that the room is set to maximize learning. Some of the items to consider: Size – the room should accommodate at least 50% more people than you will have attending. Arrangement – How should the tables and chairs be set-up for the type of training that will be conducted? Refreshments – Keep the participants fueled with water and healthy snacks to aid in their attention and comprehension. Equipment – Be sure to have the right equipment in the room such as an LCD projector, a flip chart and a white board.
Pre-work – The participants should spend some time preparing for the training. Check with the instructor to determine what they could read in advance about the subject, or if some material should be prepared that would make the program run smoother. In addition it might be beneficial to have the managers of the attendees discuss with them their goals for the program and how the training should improve the organization.

Now that it is time to begin the training, there are still some ways in which we can increase its effectiveness. First, encourage the participants to focus on the training and to minimize any work-related distractions. Second, you can help to minimize distractions by having co-workers or temps cover the day-to-day work that needs to be done. Above all, don’t damage the program by causing the attendees to be anxious about the work that is piling up on their desk.

Finally, a couple of suggestions as to how you can enhance the training through effective follow up.
Support Changes – We hope that the training has elicited some positive changes in the participants. Managers and other leaders should be on the watch for and support any positive changes that they notice.
Revisit the Training – Many of the concepts or techniques brought forward through the training are easily lost if not used immediately. Bring the participants back together about a week after the training has been completed to discuss what ideas they have used and how the material is helping them in their daily work.

Making use of these suggestions will help you to make the most of your training investment and ensure that the participant’s time is well spent.

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