BLUF: I'm assembling training rules for training participants. My thoughts are in bullets below - is there anything else I should include?

I manage a team of geographically dispersed consultants that will all be traveling to attend three-day technical training at our corporate HQ.  As I've been thinking about our past training sessions, I realized that they've been less than effective for the same reasons that meetings are sometimes less effective.  As such, I'm assembling some training ground rules for my team:

  • Arrive Early
  • Electronics off an in the fruit bowl
  • Leave laptops off and in their bags
  • One at a time (no sidebars)
  • Phone calls and emails only during breaks
  • Return from breaks on time
  • Be respectful

Are there any others that I should include here?

GlennR's picture

When I was a field manager, I had the same conversations with my directs. Let me suggest a slightly different approach using the same content:

Narrow it down to three, to make it easier to remember:

  1. Make it a goal to arrive each morning 10 minutes before the start time. Be in the room for the start of sessions and when returning from breaks. Use the "early arrival" time to network.
  2. Focus on extreme listening by not pulling out your electronic devices during sessions and by not engaging in sidebar conversations. Instead think of how you can apply these lessons learned to your responsibilities.
  3. Be respectful of the presenters by giving them your undivided attention and asking intelligent questions. Be respectful of the session by fully participating in exercises and discussions.

Next add in a story about some poor sap who damaged his or her career by screwing up when they were given an opportunity similar to this one. I have seen this happen when someone visits the corporate office and creates a really bad impression. I have also seen the reverse.

Finally, do not do this via email. Set aside time to call each person and go over these three rules. I'm guessing that most of your communication with your directs is via email like the rest of us. Therefore, when someone receives a phone call from his boss, he takes it more seriously.

Unless your culture is radically different from most, this last step, having a verbal conversation, may mean the difference between them listening to you versus not listening. Yes, it is time consuming, but the ROI is worth it. Would you rather have a five minute phone call before the training session or a 30-minute corrective action phone call after? Not to mention having to receive a phone call from your boss or the seminar leader complaining about one of your directs. An ounce of prevention....


mattpalmer's picture

I think you've covered most of my biggies, except the parking lot.  I find it *amazingly* helpful in keeping topic drift under control.  One of my team members has made himself the unofficial parking lot police -- I tend to love a good diversion as much as anyone, and he'll pull anyone (including me, or even himself) with a quick "parking lot!" and we'll move on.  I have no idea how much time we've saved, but I'll bet its pretty significant by now.

SteveAnderson's picture

These worked great! It was a little bit difficult to enforce because I wanted this behavior from my team but we were only a third of the people taking the class and I got good feedback from the other team leads that my people were very engaged.  We maintained our own parking lots and took many action items out of the training. Thanks for the great suggestions - esp. relaying it verbally rather than email.


KyleIrish's picture

Glad to hear they worked out for you!  I was going to add a few to the discussion as well for future considerations.

As for trying to curb electronic devices from being used in the meeting, that's definitely a challenge.  You don't want the employees to be completely disconnected  from their email, smartphone, tablet or whichever handy device they gravitate towards, for fear of some potential consulting deal being ignored in that training window.  On the other hand, you want your employees to gain the most from the training sessions you're providing, and an extremely strict rule on media usage can help with that.

Sometimes I've seen that allowing open discussion during a presentation, as long as it's not becoming too much to the point of being rude to the presenter, keeps all the employees alert and feel productive by contributing.  Plus, an open debate during a presentation can work the other way, to where the presenter is calling upon people at random, meaning an attentive eye and ear from the trainees for when their turn comes is key.

As far as being punctual, that's a definite rule of thumb that all trainees should embrace at every turn.  I liked the second commenter's  take on using the breaks in between each presentation as a way to network, but do so with the clock in mind.  Shorter, more focused networking sessions keeps conversations flowing more naturally when you're not worried about filling the "dead air" times.  But make sure that you have the break area fully stocked with the necessities for your trainees to get a glass of water, coffee, juice, any quick breakfast/lunch snack to re-energize their minds and keep their attention spans going full steam ahead.


 Community Manager at ej4, a leader in creating online training videos for businesses and their employees in the form of both custom elearning and other related formats to help encourage employee-company growth.