How Training Can Help Your Team …
Far too often, the phrase “people are our best asset” is an insincere cliché. We believe that high performing teams are essential for long term success and we love developing the skills, engagement and motivation to foster that culture in your business.
“In the modern business, lecturing is rarely the style of learning that gets the best results”
We lecture as little as possible. We find that, in the modern business, it is rarely the style that maximises learning. It also rarely suits the subject matter. Most training we deliver involves preparation for circumstances that require creative problem solving and situational assessment. Where we are giving an expert briefing or “introduction to” then a formal presentation style may work best -- the expert speaks and the audience has an opportunity to test both the expert and their own understanding with questions. However, this isn’t what we normally find businesses are looking for (we do of course love briefings, especially when it involves presenting interesting research).
The type of training where we can really bring a benefit to your team is where you are seeking to deepen understanding of your team, such as:
- Knowing more about a customer type
- Learning a process
- Understanding compliance standards
We can also help with the overall approach to training. What are the key competencies that your team should have to be really great at their jobs? How can that be measured and developed in a structured way?
Understanding that delivers value
Most people can learn new things on the job. A lucky few seem to be able to pick up new concepts and practices in a way that seems effortless (spoiler alert: they are often practicing in their spare time). Training can accelerate that learning and ultimately aims to bring more people up to the same standard that you see from your best team members. Even seemingly instinctive skills such as reading a customer, recognising a great deal or showing empathy to a distressed colleague can be progressively built by concentrating on underpinning behaviours such as (respectively) body language, decision making analysis or emotional intelligence. We work with you to understand the existing competencies and behaviours of your team and develop the content that will best help you achieve your organisation’s goals.
A training plan worth more than the paper it’s written on
Sometimes there is a clear need for training of a certain type. A task or event is coming up or clients have been asking whether your team has a certain skillset. A greater challenge is understanding what competencies your team need to be great rather than good. For graduate hires there is a well-worn approach. Immersive induction events over days, and sometimes weeks, give them an overview of lots of things about the business that they will need for the future and set them on their way with a baseline knowledge. We can help you take things to the next level by working with you to assess what abilities help your team perform well, and how to measure and develop them. The measurement aspect is very important because sometimes we don’t need to give individuals extra training in a subject - they already picked it up in another job or in their studies. We can direct our training budget more precisely to improve the team whilst directing individual development at areas where there are real gaps.
“Competency assessment normally ends at the key skills without which someone fails to perform entirely”
Competency assessment always partially exists on an informal level. We know that the role requires someone to speak French and be good with people, but what else? Do they need to have decent business acumen? Does it help if they understand manufacturing? Informal competency assessment normally ends at the key skills without which someone fails to perform entirely: they can’t talk to the customers, they can’t update the data in the system. If we can expand this list to what the best team members do (which takes plenty of time and brainpower), then we have a great foundation for targeted training and building a brilliant team.
A warning about this process: it’s harder than you think and it does require time and money. In concept, it starts with writing down the skills that the best person in every team has. The problem is that we quickly come up with a list that is too long and has lots of overlaps. Then you start worrying that the best person in the team still has areas of weakness and might not be the right prototype. Unless you are a very small organisation, you want a competency assessment that is transferrable across teams and manageable in scale. That is where you might need our help.
Material That Lasts
We know that intensive training often leads to an adrenaline burst of subject matter expertise and enthusiasm (even if the newfound skill is purchase order creation). This then leads to desperation as people forget what they learned in the inevitable six week period between taking the course and needing to apply it. For this reason, we take training materials seriously and we know that sometimes simply handing out a copy of the presentation slides isn’t sufficient as reference material.
“We create the right reference materials for your team and write it in a way that makes it understandable and usable”
We work with you to understand how the learning should be applied within your organisation, as well as more practical details such as how people keep documentation in your company. For some businesses, a smart booklet may be the right format for their team to take away. For others, it might be about creating searchable materials on the company intranet. We can create the right solution for your team, we write it in a way they understand and can use and we spend time in the training session itself making sure they know where to turn.
At first glance this might seem like a consideration only for technical training, but soft skills benefit from the same approach. How will I develop my newly acquired love of open-ended questioning if I can’t find my cheat sheet of useful lead in questions when I need it? Where is that list of frequent reactions by individuals in newly formed teams and the best practice responses?
Workshops That Work
Well delivered workshop training can be deceptively successful. Often the attendees emerge believing that they’ve learned all the subject matter by teaching themselves, with some passing attribution to the “facilitators”.
“Trainers have to work hard and have a deep understanding of the subject to make workshops run smoothly for the participants”
This is always a sign that the trainers have worked tirelessly to make it seem easy. Achieving this reliably takes repetition and a deep understanding of the subject. To be comfortable inviting open discussion in a workshop the trainer needs to know the topic well, enabling them to anticipate which subjects will likely need more explanation to the attendees as well as where the possible “a-ha” moments will be. Without subject matter expertise, this isn’t possible and for this reason one of our core tenets is that we only train in things we understand.
If you don’t think we understand the subject, don’t hire us
In fact, we will make life easy for you. If we can’t bring sufficient expertise, then we won’t tell you that we can lead training.
“Time out of the day job is a precious commodity”
Only where we have pre-existing expertise or an adjacency would we put ourselves in the position of training your team. Time out of the day job is a precious commodity and we don’t want it wasted. If we don’t think we can do the task well, we will say so; and if we know someone who would be right for it then we will point you in their direction.
How We Approach Learning
We'll work with you to solve the problems you know about and identify the gaps that you are not yet aware of.