How to Run Effective Employee Training Sessions
Professionals need to continually adapt to changes in their industries and learn new skills so that their work abilities remain relevant. Companies are challenged to develop training sessions that are enjoyable, engaging, and beneficial for their employees.
One of the keys to effective training is being in tune with how employees want to learn. A survey of employees by OfficeTeam found that more than a third of the employees surveyed valued in-house, instructor-led workshops the most. Nearly a third valued off-site seminars for which they received tuition, while a small percentage pursued online courses or read reference books. Many companies offer these training options.
Developing Training Programs
There are several methods that you can use to develop training programs:
- Encourage staff to come forward if they want to get involved in projects outside their day to day responsibilities and learn new skills
- Identify senior and management staff who are willing and able to share their knowledge
- Set up networking and brainstorming opportunities for those planning and leading the sessions
- Determine if funding is available to reimburse staff for external courses
- Check out lower cost options such as online programs and books
- Join professional organizations that provide workshops and networking opportunities
- Subscribe to the mailing lists of companies that focus on training and webinars
Planning the training session
The first step is to evaluate the audience by gathering information about them such as their familiarity with the topic, their age, gender, and cultural background. Identify their learning skills, which could be visual, auditory, or tactile. Visual learners need a clear view of the presenter's body language and facial expressions as well as pictures, graphs, and maps. Auditory learners would rather listen to a presentation than watch it. You will need to have a clear microphone and a good sound system to ensure that you are heard clearly. Younger, less experienced employees may prefer a more hands-on, tactile approach.
Then you must analyze the workplace and identify the new skills that are needed. You should encourage staff to inform you about knowledge gaps that need to be addressed. Each training session should have set goals based on a needs analysis of what the employees need. Then you need to determine how much time is needed to train the staff.
Sometimes training is required because of a future change in the company. Staff need to know when the change will be implemented and how the change will impact their positions.
Effective Communication between management and staff is needed to ensure that all of those involved know about the training sessions. The announcement of a session should be made well ahead of time to ensure employee attendance along with reminders as the date approaches.
In-house training may require the booking of a venue, preparing handout materials, providing projectors for PowerPoint presentations, and scheduling the trainers. Take the time to organize your material well. Pick powerful images and graphics that will make an impression on trainees. They will also provoke the trainees' imaginations and make them more engaged in the material.
You can use several approaches to your presentation:
Chronological: Using a timeline can be effective when discussing a history of progression of something, such as changes in technology.
Sequential: Certain situations can be presented in a sequential pattern so that information flows in a logical manner. An example is explaining the different characteristics of a problem and then explaining the solution.
Point-Counterpoint: presents two different sides of an issue, such as the benefits and problems with certain software.
The presentation should be sensible and the information should be connected to each other. Real-world examples help trainees to relate to the material and make the material more interesting.
can increase the trainees' concentration by up to 43 percent and will improve the trainees perception of your abilities
requires the use of a projector, does not work for detailed information
can be an inexpensive way to communicate
are not suitable for large audiences or presenters with poor spelling or handwriting
Helps you come across as a professional Helps you address large groups
does not suit younger employees because slides are too formal and do not allow interaction
Here are some guidelines to running successful training sessions.
- Make sure that all the apparatus needed is set up and functioning properly
- Begin the session on time and do not hold up the training for latecomers
- Run the session according to the schedule as much as possible
- Give enough time for breaks during longer sessions
- Start the session with the agenda and provide a brief overview the main points that will be covered
- Cover all the bases that need to be covered such as going over policies, demonstrating procedures, and explaining key points
- Use repetition to help trainees to understand and absorb the information
- Explain to the trainees what they are going to see before a multimedia section, guiding them to know what to look for and remember
- Go over the key points again at the end and close with a summary
- Provide hands-on training as much as possible
- Demonstrate and use teaching points to increase the trainees' knowledge of the subject matter.
- Tell the trainees that they will be tested and quiz them throughout the session. This will make the trainees pay closer attention.
- Involve trainees in the sessions such as asking them about their experiences with the training topics so that the other participants can learn from them. This will add variety and interest. Plan interaction sessions at various points during the session.
- Make sure that discussions remain on topic and do not go off on tangents. Plan another time, if needed, to discuss off-topic issues.
- As the participants for feedback on the effectiveness of the training session and ask what they would like to learn in the future. Input works best when the forms are anonymous and written on the spur of the moment.
Effective training sessions begin with recognizing the needs of employees and planning to meet those needs with appropriate training.
Adding fun elements, interaction, and repetition, focusing on key points, and getting feedback from employees will help make training an enjoyable and beneficial learning experience for everyone.
© 2015 Carola Finch