When I facilitate training, I like to ask participants a simple question right before the class begins. "Why are you here today?"
Here are some typical responses:
- "It sounded interesting."
- "My boss told me it was mandatory."
- "I have to go to a class like this as part of my personal development plan."
These answers all come from people who are clearly not prepared for the class. They may have an open mind and they might be eager to participate, but they don't have a plan to translate what they learn into new performance back on the job. In training, as in many aspects of life, it's hard to find something if you don't know what you are looking for.
You (or your employees) can better prepare for any training class by knowing the answer to three questions before the class begins.
Question #1: What is the training about?
This seems like a no-brainer, but I've often encountered participants who don't know what they're in for. More than just the title, you should have a clear idea of the specific topics and skills to be covered. How will you know what you can expect to learn if you don't have any overview of the class?
Question #2: How will this class help me do my job?
The whole point of training is to gain some knowledge, skills, or abilities that will lead to better job performance. You'll be more engaged with the class if you actively look for ways to apply it to your job. On the other hand, if the answer to this question is it won't help you, then it's a good idea not to spend your time going to the class!
Question #3: How can I apply what I've learned back on the job?
You need an implementation plan before you go to the class or you'll risk implementing nothing. Attending a training class tends to create what I call a 'vortex of work'. You put off tasks and assignments so you can attend the class, but that work piles up while you are away. This means you have a heavier than normal workload when you return to work. This extra work conspires to make it less likely that you'll apply anything you learned in a timely manner because you are consumed with getting caught up.