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Training and continuing skills development are core elements of professional life in the 21st century for a good reason – in a fast-moving, continually changing, highly competitive business environment, you need to be at the top of your game if you want to have the edge on the competition.
The best training courses can be revelatory - they can switch on a light bulb and allow people to see for the first time a way of doing what they have been doing in a clearer, more effective and inclusive way.
The best trainers will open people’s eyes to the possibility of modifying and adapting their day-to-day behaviours to sharpen up, embrace change and be ready to do things differently and better.
However, while participants in good programmes will finish the course enthused, energised and ready to accelerate not only their own careers but those of the rest of the people in their team, a problem remains: how can that enthusiasm be maintained? How can you keep up the momentum?
It is a question which is germane not only to the professionals who are devoting their valuable time to the training courses, but also to the firms who justifiably anticipate a return on investment in their directors, partners and employees that is more than transitory.
The lessons taken from a properly constructed and professionally delivered skills training programme can be career enhancing for individuals and have a direct impact on business growth and ultimately the bottom line.
Here are six ways that firms can make sure that they get the best out of the training they have provided by maintaining momentum.
1. Engender a sense of shared experience
Small army groups are successful because they have been through tough times together and have supported each other in the thick of it. Encourage the participants to stay together and focus on what they have experienced in the training.
There are a number of ways of doing this. - the most obvious is way is through social media. A private WhatsApp group can be a great way of allowing everyone to support and encourage each other in a simple, informal way.
2. Keep talking
Facilitate regular meetings, at least once a month. There doesn’t have to be a formal structure to meetings and it encourages participation if, for example, the chairing of the meeting rotates.
The group should view these meetings as a priority and make space for them, either by physical attendance or via conference call. These are great opportunities for sharing of experiences – what’s worked and what hasn’t worked for everyone. They’re safe places for people to bring a real problem scenario to the group and get the chance to hear other people’s perspectives.
The important thing is to keep the seeds which were planted in the training session growing and healthy to ensure that the skills learned are actually being applied in real life.
Delegates should be encouraged to buddy-up with a colleague and to meet regularly to encourage and cajole each other into continued action. If you’ve committed to your buddy that you are going to take certain actions before you next meeting then you are more likely to take those actions.
4. Create a virtual data room
Create a place where the group can store and share useful information, for example: one page practice area pitch crib sheets to better help colleagues cross-sell services; individual group members’ key business objectives and targets to allow everyone to spot opportunities to help each other achieve these.
5. Bring in the big guns
Bring senior board members together with the group (formally or informally). Get the group to share their experiences and successes. Encourage open dialogue about any areas where business processes could usefully be changed to help the group members achieve their business goals.
6. Make it social
Human beings are social animals and getting everyone together over food and drink helps to build rapport and develop relationships. Use these gatherings to celebrate success.
Of course none of this is rocket science. If you really want to see results from the expensive training programme that promised so much at the outset you’ve got to work hard to maintain the momentum after the trainer has left the building and the feel good factor is subsiding.