Make Training a Treat

Root canal.

Tax audit.

Lost wallet.

Those all rank among the most dreaded two-word phrases in the English language.

But to that list I’ll add a fourth:

Mandatory training.

(Be honest—you grimaced, right?)

Well, while there’s pretty much no way you can greet those first three with enthusiasm and joy, maybe we can do a little something with the last.

After all, who says mandatory training has to be something to be endured? I mean, we’re improving our skill set, our industry knowledge, and, ideally, learning things to make our jobs more productive and satisfying, right?

Well, we should be. And with a little focused effort, we can make the most of what should be a valuable investment in our most precious resources—the human ones.

Here are a few basic things to remember:

  1. Buy-in starts at the top. If you’re trying to get your employees enthused about training, it’s essential that you reflect a positive attitude yourself. No joking around, no winks or sarcastic nudges about how it’s time for “another wonderful training session.”

You need to have a complete understanding of why the training is taking place, the good that can come from it, and above all, its benefit to your team. They won’t take it seriously unless you do, and leading by example can get the experience off to a strong start.

  1. What’s in it for them? Like we said, the benefits of employee development need to be clearly conveyed. Today’s session may not make or break their careers, but it will most likely give them one more tool to help take them where they want to go.

Communicate about the training in that context. Consider sharing a great experience you’ve had yourself in a particular training session, and how it helped you. Building a greater understanding among your team members of the importance of employee development will not only boost support for the task at hand, but all future sessions.

  1. Make it fun! “Mandatory” doesn’t have to mean “miserable”—there are lots of little things you can do to make the experience a little bit more special. After all, it’s time off from their regular tasks; liven things up with a fun icebreaker, or creative refreshments, or a few carefully-orchestrated breaks in the day.

This is especially important if the subject matter is a little dry. If you’re not a creative type, bring in some help from the experts. Keep the focus on the learning—don’t let the icing overwhelm the cake—but a few little extra touches can generate good feelings and turn a mundane session into a valuable learning experience.

And help set the stage for good response to the next one.

Grow Big or Go Home!