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Make Training Count: Communicate the Reason for Training

Last week I introduced the series, Make Training Count: 10 Tips to Increase ROI, and we discussed how to determine whether or not training is the right solution to your contact center problems.

This week we’ll explore tips two, three and four.

Tip #2:Make sure that the reason for training has been communicated to the target audience.

Do the participants know what the training is about and why they are in the class?

As a trainer, nothing is more energizing and exciting than to enter a training session and have participants who know what the session is about and are ready, willing and able to state what they hope to gain from attending. And on the other hand, there is nothing more disheartening than to face blank stares or “facial question marks” at the start of a session.

Believe it or not, some people come into a training event and have absolutely no idea why they were asked to participate and/or the topic covered in the training session. I am confident the latter does not occur due to lack of sensitivity or managerial skills. Rather, it often happens due to a lack of time and/or understanding of how critical this pre-session communication is to either the success or failure of the investment in training.

That said, here are a few suggestions for this pre-session communication.

Setting the stage for success needs to start well before the class/learning event begins. There are some specific adult learning principles that every training and management professional can/should use to provide a framework for development that helps ensure participants learn before, during and after the training session has occurred. Several of these adult-learning principles apply directly to the time before the event takes place.

  1. Adults must recognize the need to learn. And in order to for them to recognize the need to learn, they must first know what the training is about, what the learning objectives are, what the desired outcomes of the training are and the connection between those outcomes and their jobs.
  2. Adults are motivated to learn because of internal factors such as desire for recognition, passion for learning and self-esteem to name a few. What impact will just sending someone to training have on these internal motivators? If they aren’t told “why” they are being sent, what should be a positive experience can quickly become a negative one as the individual is left to guess if the reasoning is due to good or poor performance.

Again, responsibility for making sure participants know the “who, what, when, where, how and why” of training and WIIFM (what’s in it for me) is a shared one. The trainer’s responsibility is to communicate the training objectives to the suggested participants, provide sample communications documents to managers and also send out communications directly. The manager’s responsibility is to communicate all of the above to the invited participants - and not just via an email or meeting request! There should be a dialogue (which means two-way) between the manager and the participants about expectations and goals for the individual and the team as a whole.

Bottom line: A small investment of pre-seminar time can yield big returns. By proactively “setting the stage” for training through communication, we can hopefully (best case) create a sense of excitement instead of dread or worry and/or at the very least ensure everyone understands why the training is happening, what the expectations are and a bit of “what’s in it for them” to actively participate! All of which will lead to a much higher training success rate!