by Evan Hackel
It’s tempting to think that employees will like your training because it gives them a chance to kick back and get away from their desks. But in reality, your training is probably causing conflicts like these for your trainees:
- “I get 100 emails before lunch every day, some of them critically important . . . what am I supposed to do, just disappear during training?”
- “I’m onboarding three new associates this week . . . and I’m expected to go sit in a classroom all day long?
- “I’m hoping to close a big sale next week . . . and my company expects me to go to another state for training?”
You get the idea. Training can cause conflicts for executives, middle managers, salespeople, front-line staffers, and just about everyone else. If you don’t address the problem, you’re only causing people to resent training before it even begins, and to resist it even more after it starts. But there are ways to resolve the conflict.
Ask Employees to Help Design the Training that Will Work Best for Them
Do your middle managers really want to travel away from their home offices? Do your salespeople want to leave their territories and sit in meetings without immediate access to incoming phone calls?
There are alternatives. Videoconferencing can let you run a virtual group training class for only an hour a day, for example. Interactive online training can allow salespeople, customer service people, and other staffers to fit training in and around their other work. And you can mix and match different delivery systems to minimize the conflict between learning and work.
Help Trainees Stay on Top of Work During Live Sessions
Have you ever been in training classes where attendees are secretly checking their mobile devices and hoping nobody will notice? Everybody becomes irritated – the trainer and the trainees too. But there are some strategies that can prevent the problem:
- “Decriminalize” the use of mobile devices. Your trainer can simply tell trainees that they may keep their phones in sight, right where they are sitting, and that they may keep an eye on emails, texts and incoming calls.
- Schedule frequent breaks. You can tell trainees that there will be a 10-minute communications break at the end of every hour of training. You can also provide different kinds of communication breaks at different times in your training; there will be no checking phones during the first 30-minute live morning presentation, for example, then more frequent breaks through the afternoon. Just be sure to communicate how those breaks will work, so trainees will know what to expect and can concentrate more completely on training.
- Let trainees prioritize their communications. If you encourage trainees to set up alerts for their most critical communications, they will engage more fully in training. If one of your salespeople is expecting an important phone call from a potential customer, for example, she can encourage that client to send a text instead of calling or emailing. She can also have a support person in her office send her a text alert as soon as the customer calls. The key is to anticipate and plan for important communications, not react after they have happened.
Don’t Just Announce Training . . . Plan It
If you have read between the lines of today’s post, you have seen the underlying message that designing effective training is an interactive process. The more you engage your trainees in planning it, the more effective it becomes.