Have you ever attended a training session and heard one of the participants ask, “Where’s my boss?”
As other people in the room shrug, the person laughs and says, “My boss needs to attend this workshop more than anyone in our company. And without our manager’s support, no one will use this.”
This is bad because if no one uses the ideas presented in a workshop, your company may conclude that the training is ineffective, and thus, may abandon all training.
Before your company makes such a drastic move, consider these three important issues that determine the effectiveness of training.
- People follow the leader. Any training program will be more successful if management supports it. This is why you should always involve top executives in planning my workshops and also ask them to attend. I recommend follow-up sessions to review the material covered in the workshop. In fact, I only work with people who value and support learning. Overall, training has earned a bad reputation because many programs were just thrown over the fence at employees who were sent to be fixed. It’s unlikely that any training program conducted under these conditions will accomplish much. Key Point: Gain management support before scheduling any training program.
- Each of us has control over our area of responsibility. And each of us lives in the environment that we create. The participant mentioned above can still conduct effective meetings, even if top management continues to hold bad meetings. In fact, someone who demonstrates sound leadership by holding effective meetings could end up replacing the boss who holds bad meetings. There are two parts to every learning experience. The first part involves mastering new skills. The second (and critical) part involves choosing to use them. Key Point: You can be an effective leader even when others aren’t.
- Some people play make-believe. Many years ago I received an evening phone call from a colleague who wanted to know if I could recommend a good book on how to hold effective meetings. It seems this person was scrambling to find material for a workshop that was scheduled to start the next morning. You’ll learn more from an expert, rather than from someone who is delivering a book report. In this case, I recommended either of the two books that I had written on how to hold effective meetings. Many companies hire trainers who build training programs based on books that they read, and some entrepreneurs agree to speak on topics that are purely academic for them. The best trainers ARE the message, which means that they live and breathe and use what they teach. They can answer any questions, meet any needs, and help with any situations that the participants may bring up. They truly know their topic. Key Point: Hire a trainer who wrote the book instead of one who (you hope) read a book.
All in all, any training program can succeed, if delivered to people who want to improve by an expert who can show them how.