“I wish I had the time to train. I know what I need to do to help my team, but I am getting pulled in so many directions. Just when I feel like I have time, a problem comes up and off I go. I never seem to get training completed so my team never gets better.”
Sound familiar? It does to me. This comment came from a manager in a class I was teaching and it led into a great conversation with the group.
“How many of you feel the same way?” I asked the attendees.
Most of them raised their hands. Feedback ranged from having to put off training completely or never getting to finish what they started. I thought one manager’s comment was perfect:
“I have to train with only one eye. The other has to watch the rest of the team or what’s coming at me.”
There seems to be a conflict amongst those who lead the improvement of their teams. Many seem to have adopted an all or none mentality regarding training. Two solutions seemed to be popular with this group: having the employees attend an all-day offsite event where the team is locked away so there are no distractions. The feedback from the class regarding this option was there was no time when they returned to help the employees implement the training. One had to hope they could apply the information themselves.
The second option was to gather people onsite for hour or two long training session. These training sessions seemed rushed to get through information and with attendees being onsite, people were constantly looking at the clock counting the seconds till they could get back to work. One main frustration of these trainers was individuals were being pulled out of the training because they were needed elsewhere.
Neither of these options are fully effective.
What I discussed with the manager who was getting pulled into different directions, is how he was making the training important to himself and his team. I commented regarding his need to fight to get training scheduled ahead of time. If he hoped training would happened when he found the perfect time it would never get accomplished.
He said his training was scheduled but he could never find an uninterrupted 30 minutes to train. This is where I stopped him and told him to re-think his training. He was looking at his training as a supersized conversation where he was going to have the undivided attention of his employee. What I suggested was making his training more bite-sized. Breaking the training up into 10 minute chunks focusing on one subject at a time.
The group seemed to take note. I explained if he focused on one topic, packaged it into a 10-minute timeframe, he should be able to find the time, undisturbed, to deliver the training. Once he completed this session, he could take a moment, look around and see if he was needed anywhere else. If not, he could, deliver a second 10 minute “bite” of training. If he was needed elsewhere he could come back later to deliver the next 10-minute package of training.
Another benefit of this style of training was he could ask the trainee if they were ready for a second 10-minute training. If the employee had other things to do they could agree to a later time allowing both sides to feel like they had control of the training.
I gave the group another tip as well. With the shorter 10-minute format, it allowed them to perform what I call “drive-by” training other times. This is where they pop in to give quick feedback on performance as they see or hear something.
“I like how you handled the customer’s request” “Great use of your product knowledge to provide answers to that customer” “Don’t forget to let the customer finish. We never want to cut them off.”
These shorter training session and bursts of feedback throughout the day keeps you involved as a trainer without a long formal 30-40-minute session. I saw the whole group nod and begin taking notes and we worked as a group on how they could chop up their training into smaller chunks and role-played quick feedback bursts.
Finding 30 minutes to train in a busy business environment is hard. Rethink your training and cut it up into 10 minute pieces focusing on one thing at a time. I firmly believe by the end of a month your team will have been be able to receive more training from you in this bite sized format and the result will be your team will be performing better.
If I can ever be of service please let me know. If you found this helpful, it would mean a great deal if you would share it with your colleagues and friends.
Author: Glenn Pasch
As the CEO of PCG Companies, Glenn works with clients to develop new strategies that will enable their businesses to become more visible, efficient and profitable.
Glenn has more than 25 years of experience with a proven track record of leading diverse teams of professionals and companies to new levels of achievement in a variety of highly competitive industries and markets.