9 (More) Ideas for Effective Trainings

Trainings are at the core of most knowledge-oriented organizations and often considered to be key driver of employee behaviors, and hence culture. It is a lot of hard work, a lot of time, effort and energy spent. It better be effective. Here are 9 (more) ideas to ensure that trainings are effective (related ideas in links below):

  1. Training is not a silver bullet. Sometimes, business leaders over emphasize on trainings when other things are not working. One example: Providing a detailed training on roles and responsibilities to a team member may not work when the problem is how people are being managed.
  2. Often, we end up imparting detailed trainings on processes that are faulty. Even if people religiously follow the process, it may not yield desired business results. Before imparting training, ensure that your processes/content is accurate enough to yield desired business outcomes.
  3. Given our shrinking attention spans, long, detailed and tedious trainings will never help people. Good trainings that are poorly designed will also take a toll. Trainings are change agents and for that to happen, map training to real time actions. Show them how to do something, stir their imagination, raise important questions and then provide answers. Better yet, let them participate in finding answers and then reinforce lessons.
  4. Timing of the training is crucial. If you impart training on something which people may not use for next two months, the lessons will soon fade away. Impart training when it is most needed and can be used readily.
  5. Trainings that are done just because some external standard (like ISO) demands is a huge waste. Standards never tell us to conduct trainings at the cost of effectiveness.
  6. We don’t need trainers who speak like robots. We need humans, who bring their emotion to the training, share their personal stories, provide us perspectives and drive our imagination. If training is repetitive by nature, create a recorded version instead.
  7. The #1 job of a trainer is to focus on them – the participants. It’s not an opportunity to show how much you know about the subject, but how they can use that in their unique context.
  8. Manage the energy in room. People think training is about “flow” – continuity of ideas and speech. Yes, it is. In fact, it is also about "engaging change”. If a trainer speaks continuously for more than 5-7 minutes, the energy in the room loses to monotony. To add an element of change, throw up a question, show a video, share a story, ask audience to share their story, outline their challenges or let them do something. It re-aligns the energy in room.
  9. While you may not have a best sense of humor, it helps to lighten up things a bit during the training. Formal trainings have a bad reputation of being serious, and hence boring. If you (as a trainer) are not having fun, you cannot expect the audience to have it either!

Other Training Related Posts at QAspire Blog:

5 Ideas To Ensure That Trainings Effectively Deliver Value

Training: The Change Agent

Training Middle Managers On People Management Basics

Training and Development – A Holistic View

The Quest of Better Outcomes: Hierarchy And Process

In quest of better outcomes (efficiency, results, productivity, improvements etc.), a lot of companies focus on restructuring their organization structure (hierarchy). Periodically, they overhaul their structure, add new positions and assign new/diverse responsibilities to people.  Tuning hierarchy and structure of the organization for better outcomes is just one part. These structural changes won’t produce the desired outcomes if the flow (process) aspect is not addressed.

Why? Because, work flows horizontally. Between teams. Between members of the teams. Between different departments. Work flows from one team member to the other. The intent, intensity and diligence with which they execute that piece of work, and how well they are equipped to execute largely determines quality of the outcomes. In my view, a lot of quality related problems can be traced to gaps in this lateral movement of work.

You need best people for sure. But to enable them for better performance, to make them effective, a system needs to be created. A system comprising of interconnected processes that act as a tool people use to execute their work. I have said this before – any organization that aims to deliver high performance consistently cannot ignore the power of process.

So, even when you frequently overhaul the structure of your organization, do not forget to think about the process aspect. How would work flow? Who will do what? How will activities be performed?

Hierarchical overhauls are no silver bullets. Long term improvements (and their benefits) can be realized if you are ready to invest time in creating systems that helps you sustain, scale, deliver and create a better future for your organization, yourself and your people.

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Also download 25 Things Managers and Leaders Should Never Do [PDF]

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Check out the latest edition of “Carnival of HR” at John Hunter’s Curious Cat Management Improvement blog. The edition features my post “Setting Expectations on Behaviors You Value: 5 Pointers” along with other excellent thoughts on HR, OD and Leadership.

“Practitioner-Led” Approach For Real Improvements

One of the sure ways to fail in any operational improvement initiative is to keep thinking about possible areas of improvements sitting in comforts of a corner cabin. Your thinking, approach and mindset may not necessarily align with those affected by such improvements. In worst case, you might not even be aware of the actual challenges faced by your teams and frontline managers.

For identifying “real” improvements, you need to talk to “real” people on the floor doing the “real” work – building solutions to customer problems, managing them, talking to them and facing operational roadblocks on a day to day basis.

Real improvements are always “practitioner-led” – people who are most affected by an operational challenge are involved in defining the solution. It helps you bring out “solutions thinking” within your team. As a bonus, it also generates better buy-in when you implement the improved process.

If your operational improvement ideas are not coming from people at all levels within the organization, you need to revisit your improvement strategy. Fresh thinking is needed on how you treat your people, align them to organization goals and empower them.

When your process improvement strategy follows a “top-down” path – people will dispassionately comply and their real problems may not even be addressed. When it is “bottom-up” – people are a part of the game. Involved. Aligned. Thinking. Ready to make a difference!

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P.S:  The focus of my last  few posts has been improvement – and I continue to think more and more about it. If you read this post in continuation to the previous ones, it may extend a better view of how improvement should be handled. Here are the links:

Wish you a productive week ahead and a GREAT Monday!

‘Commitment to Quality’ and Organic Nature of Improvement

We live in the world of instant gratification. Technology has made it easier for us to respond quickly, and rising competition/customer expectations has made it mandatory.

We lay out a strategy and look for quick execution. The moment it goes into execution, we start looking for results. We need ‘early signals’ about probability of success. We launch a blog and look for readers to start flowing in. We impart training and look for instant improvement in people’s abilities to do things. Everything in an instant, and if it doesn’t, drop it and jump on to the next.

Sure, instant actions are needed when business is at stake. When major flaws come to the fore and beg for correction. When a customer is pissed off. When your people are pissed off. Quick actions and quicker results are necessary.

The problem starts when instant gratification becomes a constant expectation.

We forget that process of evolution is slow. Sustainable change and improvement happens slowly. A tree grows organically, so do we. Culture building, process improvement, relationships and team building are slow and painstaking tasks. Gratification is delayed and hence the need for patience, persistence and focus over a long period of time. Key is to hold it on.

Improvement (in processes and culture) is always going to be work in progress because standards will keep going up.

Taking an organic view of improvement, following it through with patience, persistence and focus is what I would call ‘commitment to quality’.

Article Series on Quality – A Round-Up

As announced earlier, I am writing a very exciting series of articles on QUALITY over at ActiveGarage.com – it is a 12-part series that touches upon some of the most critical aspects of building a quality-centric organization culture. Here is a list of articles already posted so far, in case you have not read them.

I hope you will enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. The beauty of this series was that I came to realise the power of focused and theme-based writing. It can be a great tool to focus your thinking on a subject and collate that with your own experiences.

Great Quotes : Change

Economic turbulence brings about a change – and growth lies in our response to these changes. Organizations and individuals always have a choice in framing their response to these changes. Choices that influence our future.

Organizations can choose to crib about recession or align actions to consolidate the expertise, streamline operations and take meaningful decisions that have long lasting impact on future.

In this context, here is a great quote coming from “Leadership Turn” blog:

“When the wind of change blows, some build walls, others build windmills.” –Anonymous

I was recently talking to one of my seniors and he mentioned that recession is like a pit stop in car racing. Racing cars use pit stop opportunity (or a yellow caution flag) to change tyres, fasten bolts and get refuelled. This “pit-stop strategy” is very important for organizations and individuals when they racing towards growth and development. On the same lines, I read an interesting article over at BNET titled “Think of the economic turndown as a pit stop; The race will still run “.

When faced with change, what do you prefer to build? Wall or Windmill?

P.S. – I have written three posts earlier that touch upon this all important topic of change management. 1) Thoughts on Change Management 2) Why Change? 3) Leadership and Adaptability. Your comments are priceless.