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Chris LoCurto

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April 16, 2012

Training For Your Team Doesn’t Have To Be Boring!

April 16, 2012 | By | 41 Comments">41 Comments

Here’s a great post on training your team by Lily Kreitinger. Lily’s specializes in helping companies effectively train their team members. Follow Lily on LinkedIn. You can guest post as well! Read how to here.

In some organizations, people roll their eyes when they are scheduled to attend mandatory training and listen to a “consultant” read a bunch of slides. I think the technical term is “death by Power Point.” But it doesn’t have to be that way.

Here’s an example. I was asked by the sales manager of a Fortune 500 company to design a training program for his sales supervisors. Their key performance areas were evaluated, and it was found that the supervisors had poor written and verbal communication skills and poor reading comprehension. After we identified the gaps and needs, we designed a two-year training program for them.

We started with a one-week retreat on leadership skills and followed it up with monthly sessions for the next 24 months. The results were amazing. We did not present it as a remediation class. We explained that they had been selected to participate in this program, so they could improve their skills. They didn’t feel reprimanded. They felt acknowledged.

Those in the program read high-school level books on history, culture and art.  Then, they had to present what they learned from their reading.  Overall, it was really fun. We didn’t expect them to improve their scores by 80%, but they did. We didn’t expect that they would be so excited about learning that they involved their families in their assignments. But they did.

They took it upon themselves to visit the historic sites mentioned in their books and talk to their kids about them. They took one-day trips with their families and had the whole family involved in creating posters for their presentation to the group. A new culture of leadership and learning was born.

When people feel acknowledged, they will respond with enthusiasm. If you’ve planned it well, you will see, like we did, team members comparing notes on their reading during their lunch hour. They may stay a little late at work to read one more chapter. And you can smile and feel proud of them.

Question: How do you plan your vision, budget, time, and resources for training?

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  • LouiseThaxton

    Wow, Lily!  That is AMAZING!  To say the very least!  How innovative and refreshing this is!  And I love that the supervisors did not feel reprimanded – but actually acknowledged – and as a result of the change in focus in training – they IMPROVED – by 80%?!?  
     
    Oh – and definitely NOT boring – you are so creative in your approach.  

    • http://www.lilykreitinger.com lilykreitinger

       @LouiseThaxton Thanks Louise! Welcome back!

  • http://www.lifeofasteward.com/ Loren Pinilis

    Wow, they enjoyed reading high school level books on history? You guys must have had some really interesting presentations!

  • http://specializingintheimpossible.wordpress.com/ Laura Johnson

    Like Like Like! :)

  • http://uma-maheswaran.blogspot.com/ uma_maheswaran

    Agreed Lily! Often, we have experienced this in my team. Being audit professional, we are required to undergo technical traininng for the quantum of 40 hours per annum. In this process, we could lose the creative bent of mind unless we are intentional about it.  Thanks for the post this morning.
     

    • http://www.lilykreitinger.com lilykreitinger

      Thanks for your comments Uma!  Being intentional and purpose-driven is the key to solid training!

  • tbric1

    We brought in a trainer for 3 days last year.  It was for LEAN manufacturing.  The first day was spent off site learning and doing hands on activities.  The second and third days were back at the plant.  Everyone was involved, from the office to the floor sweeper.  It was a great team building & learning experience that we still use today.  Although it was expensive, we have plans on going to some more training/seminars this year.
    The trainer knew how to teach us in a way we would understand, and knew what he was talking about.

    • http://www.lilykreitinger.com lilykreitinger

       @tbric1 It’s to great to hear of successful training experiences. Someone that knows their stuff and speaks your language and gets people engaged is guaranteed to make a positive impact.

  • kathieg

    Lily-  I love your positive presentation.  I think that helps so much to include employees and get them motivated to learn!
     

    • http://www.lilykreitinger.com lilykreitinger

       @kathieg Thanks Kathie! Motivation is definitely key. Inspiration is even better!

  • epicenterone

    It sounds obvious, but I think a lot of training kind of misses how important it is to design to solve a real problem. If there isn’t a direct way to apply what you’re learning in the training session, the results will be less than fantastic – and employee engagement will be even worse. 
     
    I really like how you approached the training by first looking at the KRA’s – that’s really smart. (Taking notes.) 
     
    We provide English language training in companies around Mexico City – and being able to have our training sessions solve real problems vs ‘just teaching English’ is something we’re working hard to do better. 
     
    How are we planning our vision/time for training: spending more time at the front end (before the course) to evaluate the real needs we need to solve. 
     
    For our employee training: we’re spending time casting our company’s vision, repeating it in interesting ways, and also trying to teach new skills we see missing as we observe our teachers in action. (Trying to connect training to real problems or issues we need to fix.) 
     
    Thanks for the great post Lily! 

    • http://ChrisLoCurto.com ChrisLoCurto

       @epicenterone “being able to have our training sessions solve real problems vs ‘just teaching English’ is something we’re working hard to do better.” What a concept!!! Great stuff. 

      • epicenterone

         @ChrisLoCurto Thank you Chris. It’s easier said than done…but boy, it sure makes a difference as Lily pointed out in the post. When you train to solve pain or increase effectiveness at something – engagement sky rockets. Teachers/trainers who learn how to tie course work to solving real pain get amazing results. 
         
         

        • http://www.bluebridgecomm.com/ JoelFortner

          Same is true with marketing coaching.  People perk up when you make it relevant to their situation. That’s when lightbulbs start going off, ideas begin to generate and solutions start to take form. It’s really cool to see this happen!

        • epicenterone

           @JoelFortner And just read this today: “Leadership skills are best learned when needed.” via Build the plane while it’s in the air (http://leadershipfreak.wordpress.com/2012/04/15/build-the-plane-while-its-in-the-air/
           
          Big applications to training! 

    • http://www.lilykreitinger.com lilykreitinger

       @epicenterone Thank you, Aaron for the great comments. I have a feeling that you’re doing fine with your training efforts. Way to go!

      • epicenterone

         @lilykreitinger Thanks Lily – I appreciate that! We are doing our best to DO OUR BEST. :) 

  • http://ChrisLoCurto.com ChrisLoCurto

    To all of my commenters, sorry about last week. None of my comments showed up. :-(

    • http://www.lilykreitinger.com lilykreitinger

      We thought you were giving us the silent treatment : ) Welcome back!

    • http://www.indueseason.net skottydog

       @ChrisLoCurto Welcome back, sir!   

    • http://www.indueseason.net skottydog

       @ChrisLoCurto Welcome back, sir!  We knew you never left us!

    • epicenterone

       @ChrisLoCurto Yeah! You’re back! Have a great day! 

    • http://www.bluebridgecomm.com/ JoelFortner

      To all of Chris’ commenters, sorry about last week.  I hacked his account in attempts to delete all of your all’s comments so as to win top commenter for April but accidentally deleted all of his.  I think the stress of the moment got to me.  Oh well.

      • http://www.lilykreitinger.com lilykreitinger

         @JoelFortner That would qualify you as a low-performance hacker. We might have to create a remediation plan at some point.

      • http://uma-maheswaran.blogspot.com/ uma_maheswaran

        That’s hilarious Joel

    • http://specializingintheimpossible.wordpress.com/ Laura Johnson

       @ChrisLoCurto So does this mean you’re going to go back and re-type them all? ;)
      I wondered if that was the case, considering all the problems we all were having….it was your turn. :)

  • http://www.indueseason.net skottydog

    I love your strategy of approaching the retreat as a program for improvement, not deficiency.  Entering into this task by making team members feel they are involved in something special, as opposed to fixing an area that needs repair, is a great idea!  

    • http://ChrisLoCurto.com ChrisLoCurto

      It really gives them buy in instead of feeling dictated to.

    • http://www.lilykreitinger.com lilykreitinger

       @skottydog The amazing thing was that they voluntarily went ‘above and beyond’ what we had planned as ‘required’.  It was so fun to see the transformation and engagement!

  • http://www.thecaremovement.com/ Al Smith

    Excellent Chris. Amazing what happens when you CARE about people. Yes, Communicate, Appreciate, Respect, Encourage. It’s basic and simple AND it works.  When you take the time to listen, a whole new world opens up.  I still think you can use powerpoint, you just can’t “bore them to death” with it.  Make it Fun !
     
    Take CARE.
     
    Al

    • http://www.lilykreitinger.com lilykreitinger

       @Al Smith Hi Al!  I have to say that I am a PowerPoint nerd. I love it and I try to use it wisely.  The whole idea behind avoiding “death by powerpoint” is the concept of meaningless repetitous information that will saturate people’s brains and not allow them to think by themselves or apply the information in their daily tasks.  I agree, we have to make it fun!

      • http://uma-maheswaran.blogspot.com/ uma_maheswaran

        True lily! Presentation is an art. It can’t be robotic or mechanic.

    • http://ChrisLoCurto.com ChrisLoCurto

      Completely with you Al!! And just adding a video to your long PowerPoint doesn’t make it fun. :-)

  • http://hardandsimple.blogspot.com Skropp

    It’s amazing how making people you appreciate and respect them works so much better than making them fell like there is something inherently wrong with them (ok, it’s actually fairly obvious, haha). Great approach!

    • http://www.lilykreitinger.com lilykreitinger

       @Skropp It certainly is. It ties into the Strenghts Finder conversation we had a few days ago. Help people succeed by recognizing what they are doing well and give them the tools to do even better!

      • http://hardandsimple.blogspot.com Skropp

        @lilykreitinger With how common sense it is, it’s amazing the number of bosses, managers, and parents don’t get it! And how often I forget it, even though I’ve realized it!

        • http://ChrisLoCurto.com ChrisLoCurto

           @Skropp  @lilykreitinger It does seem so common sense. I think the problem is we learn from those before us. If they didn’t get it, we have to really be looking outside ourselves to see it.

  • http://www.bluebridgecomm.com/ JoelFortner

    This is a great approach!  And yes greatly preferred over “death by powerpoint.”  Good stuff.

    • http://ChrisLoCurto.com ChrisLoCurto

      @JoelFortner I was so hopping you were going to PowerPoint with my marketing stuff.

      • http://www.bluebridgecomm.com/ JoelFortner

        I know better than that, dude!

      • http://www.lilykreitinger.com lilykreitinger

        Love the photo by the way!