Getting the most out of your next training course
You either love them or hate them, but for most of us, training courses are a normal part of
our working life and for companies they represent a significant investment of time and money.
So why is it that, whilst most companies are quick to send their employees on courses to
improve their skills, few if any, ever provide training or guidance on how to get the very
next out of your next training course?
By applying this simple framework to your next course you will not only enjoy the courses more, but be able to integrate the new knowledge and skills faster and more efficiently into your role.
The key to success of training lays in the pre course preparation.
Relevance – One of the first questions I ask myself, when present with the opportunity to
take some training, is how relevant is this training to where I am right now.
If you work within a company, some training will inevitably may be mandatory, but that doesn’t stop you questioning the relevance and fit of the training to your training needs.
It’s essential to ensure that the training or course provides you with the skills and knowledge you need right now, not 6 months in the future. For maximum result, you want to be able to immediately put the training into practice after the course.
This is just in time learning not just in case learning!
By making the course relevant to your needs, you be able to relate the training opportunities to what you need right now. This will also allow you to frame your learning to ensure you identify what you need to learnt by the end of the course, to delivery real tangible results.
Don’t overdo it though, just have 3 specific goals for the course.
Establish what you want to learn, and how this will look sound and feel when you successfully put this into effects after the course. Again this simple act, primes your subconscious mind to look at how to apply the new knowledge in the real world whilst you are learning.
Don’t limit your goals to learning outcomes. All training courses present you with a huge opportunity for strategic networking. The important word here though is “strategic”. As interesting as it is to meet new people, the very act of finding out something about your fellow delegates before the course will allow you to identify the key people you can connect with and areas of common interest and mutual benefit.
Like it or not, we all carry around with us, assumptions about how we learn and what the training is likely to be like. In any training situation, to really learn, you have to be prepared to fail when you try
something for the first time. In doing so, you also have to deal with some of the basic assumptions you have, about how you learn and what that says about us.
If you think you can’t learn or you’re not good at X or Y and this makes you a bad person or in some way inferior, you immediately close yourself off to trying something new.
Look none of us are bad learners, you learnt to walk and speak as a child didn’t you. The complexity of walking and learning any language is extremely high.
Just learning to balance, pronounce words, or string a sentence together, is anything but simple.
Did we learning to speak perfectly the first time we opened our mouths to speak as a child?
Did you walk upright, with perfect balance the very first time you stood as a child?
But every single one of us learns to do these tasks in spite of the difficulty.
You see at the heart of successful learning is trial and error.
You learn by doing, by applying not by intellectualising.
So get over yourself and just accept that there will be failures along the way and greet each as a sign that you are making progress.
Another thing is to recognise that there have been times in your life when you learned certain things with ease. Take some time to identify what made this type of learning so effortless and then find a away to introduce these elements when you start to learn new things.
See if you cultivate a deep curiosity and playful attitude to what you are learning then things become immeasurably easier.
The final thing is to write down your assumptions you have about training and learning. What you will like about it, what you will dislike, what are you worried about on the course or what you are about to learn.
If you are on a public speaking or presentational course and are terrified of getting up in front of an audience then you are not only going to need to take on a load of new information but also have to deal with some of your long held beliefs.
By spending a few minutes to become aware of the assumptions and beliefs you already have about the course, venue, participants and content will enable your unconscious mind to begin to go to work to provide you with possible ways to deal with any negative associations.
I encourage you to write all of these down, and review regularly during the training. You may just begin to discover that some of assumptions and preconceptions you had at the start of the training aren’t what you first thought. This will not only help you enjoy the act of learning more, but also ensure future learning is more productive and effortless.
During the training, the most important thing to do is have fun and dive in.
Leave your preconceptions at the door remember you’re here to learn.
Throughout the training, review your goals and check that you are getting closer to being able to apply this to your situation.
If not what do you need to do to move closer towards these?
If you are moving towards your desire outcomes, why not ask yourself how and where else could I do or apply this? The very act of doing this will ensure you develop behavioural flexibility in applying the skills and knowledge.
It’s also important to ask yourself, where these skills or knowledge can’t be applied and why. This will give you insight into how you may be able to adjust it can work.
The more ways you can apply the knowledges the closer you move to truly mastering any
subject or task. Our aim in learning any task or skill is to identify the critical pieces or
actions that produce the most dramatic effect.
Don’t just learn one way of doing the task.
As the saying goes if all you have is a hammer, all you see are nails.
Next, try to keep a list of the tasks that you will do when you get back after course to hard wire the new knowledge and skills.
At the end of the course, take 5 mins to review the list and identify three actions you will take over the next 3 days to immediately start to apply the course material. Then make those actions happen – even a simple call to arrange a meeting or a quick search of the web for more resources will ensure you continue moving forward.
After the training,
Plan some time in to review all your notes, then make a schedule for the next four weeks and include all the actions and key milestones you will need to achieve, to continue the momentum of the course and to really start to apply the new skills and knowledge.
I also try to have one or two simple metrics, you can use to ensure that you are measuring your progress. The more objective the measurements, the better. Get rid of any ambiguity and strive to develop measurement that requires a simple yes or no. If your answer is a maybe you know you haven’t achieved your milestone.
If you just been on a cold calling course, it could be as simple as I need to make 10 calls today, and 2 conversions.
Then if you don’t archive these targets, just take ten minutes at the end of the day to review what’s working and what’s not against the course notes you took. The very next day make one change and try again.
Why only one change at once?
You want to make it easier to identify what’s working and what’s not. Introduce a single new change and you will know instantly, introduce multiple changes all at once and you spend many hours of lost time trying to guess what was the effective change. So next time you are about to attend a seminar, training course or start any learning, use this method and watch your results explode.
Until next time