Sarah Burns, Managing Director of GPRS Recruitment

Embracing ongoing opportunities for personal development can benefit both employees and their employers; external training workshops provide the opportunity to build on their existing skillsets, learn something new, evaluate their current working methods and can also help with fostering new friendships within the workplace or just simply bring a “team” together.

Continued Professional Development (CPD) certainly seems to be a factor which influences people’s job satisfaction levels – in an earlier article, "Do you offer on-going training and development?" GPRS Sales Director Helen Wilson discusses the benefits of offering training to staff.

Despite 77% of workers stating that they ‘would like more training at work’, when faced with a day out of the office many employees lose enthusiasm, stating that they are simply too busy within their role and therefore see it as an unnecessary distraction, or a waste of time!

This is not an ideal situation for managers and business owners who have invested company money towards the training.

Getting a worthwhile return on your investment

I attended an external training workshop recently, and whilst there were some like-minded people present who were also eager to make the most of the day, there were those who spent the day checking their emails, repeatedly left the session to make phone calls and, in the case of a few, didn’t show up at all.

Fortunately, this doesn’t apply to everyone but as training isn’t, and shouldn’t be, cheap, as a manager you need to ensure that you are getting a worthwhile return on your investment. Once you’ve booked the training and sent calendar invites to your team, don’t just move on to something else and forget about it, expecting your staff to be prepped and ready.

My advice would be to book a pre-training meeting to thoroughly prepare your employees for the up and coming training session, encourage them to think about the aims and objectives of the training, where they think they are in relation to the topic, and their desired learning outcomes.

4 ways to ensure that everyone gets the most out of their training

In addition, there are steps that can be taken which may sound obvious but are often overlooked, to ensure that everyone makes the most of the training.

Apparently ‘56% of HR Managers considered continuous training and development to be an essential business enabler’ in a poll in February, yet most managers don’t know how to prepare for training adequately.

Feel free to share the below guide with your staff ahead of an external training day:

1. Plan ahead…     

  • Get to know the person delivering the training (check the company website and social channels and connect with them on LinkedIn)
  • Understand what you want to achieve from the session

2. The day before…

  • Set up your email ‘out of office’
  • Verbally inform the relevant people of your absence so that people aren’t trying to call/email you all day
  • Do a complete handover with a colleague to give yourself peace of mind that anything urgent is being dealt with

3. The evening before…

  • Pack your bag, remembering a pad and a pen or two along with water and snacks/lunch (if not provided)
  • Check your timetable/travel plans to ensure that you know where to be and for what time
  • Get an early night!

4. Things to remember on the day…

  • Mingle - arrive in good time so you can relax and get to know the other attendees a little better
  • Sit with your work colleagues, although it is likely that you will be split up for some activities (you’ve mingled so you can align yourself with like-minded souls or even people you may learn something from, not people your learning style won’t be compatible with!)
  • The pace will be fast so make sure you’re switched on and ready to go from the off!
  • Be open and honest – don’t exaggerate or make things up during tasks to try and impress others, your own personal development is the reason you’re there
  • Ask sensible questions
  • Speak up if they’ve lost you (you are probably not the only one)
  • Use breaks to your advantage - personally I’d ring-fence the trainer!
  • Put your phone on silent and avoid checking your emails at lunch – have confidence in the colleague who is looking after things in your absence!

As a manager, following the training day it is then your responsibility to sit down with those who attended and evaluate the day, asking what they have learned and what they are going to put into practice.

Training is only useful if it has a tangible positive impact on the business, so it’s important for staff to work out a way to implement what they have learned, rather than returning to their desks and never thinking about it again.

Training days can be costly in terms of both time and money, so it’s important that managers and staff alike get some benefit.

With more time and planning put into it, it’s possible to see a greater return on investment from training days, and enables a more effective focus on the much talked about CPD.

Sarah Burns, Managing Director of GPRS Recruitment

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