Training is like coffee – you need the right blend!

By Alison Smith, Project Agency

As technology increases so does the pressure on efficiency and return on investment in projects, and for day to day tasks. With the cost of training staff increasing financially, time out of the office being a real issue the question is; “how can I train my staff effectively, whilst keeping down the financial and time costs?”

Traditional approaches would suggest that an internal / external classroom based course be set up and staff duly sent for 1 – 2 days training. While this has the advantages of focussed learning without disruptions, there are also other knock on effects that have to be considered.

Blended learning is a potential solution, but all too often it is used as a 2 dimensional tool substituting reading materials or bolting on some e learning with reduced time in the classroom. To be effective you have to be more creative with your approach. By engaging staff more fully you will have an opportunity to connect with them and enable a deeper level of learning.

So what are your options? I would suggest that there will always be the need for some time in the classroom environment, but I would also consider using a weekly development approach. Below is an example of a potential training overview programme.

Week 1: Initial contact
A 10 minute 1 to 1 with line manager advising that staff member has been chosen for training. This will include agreeing objectives of the training for that individual and enrolling them on an automated training series. This will then generate a welcome e mail and give some brief overview information.

Week 2: Getting started
An automated e mail will be sent detailing a bite size e learning module including a learning activity to be undertaken that week. At the end of the week the staff member will receive an e mail with a possible solution to the activity and some other issues that may arise in that area.

Week 3: Building blocks
Team member is sent  a section of the training handbook and asked to work through this for 20 – 25 minutes per day. At the end of week 3 a 10 minute pre course briefing with their line manager takes place, followed by an online pre course questionnaire.

Week 4: Practical training
The team member attends a 1 day project management course. The day of training will cover the whole  project management process in more detail, and will be an opportunity to put into practice skills learnt in activities on the course.

An automated e mail to be sent post course thanking the attendee and giving blank templates and useful points of reference information.

Week 5: Putting it into practice
The team member  is given a practical activity via an e learning module to take a real project to review and develop their skills. Also an automated e mail with podcast recapping the top 10 tips from the practical course.

Week 6: Any questions?
Team member receives a 1 hour, 1 to 1 coaching session to look at their real life project activity and review any other areas / queries that they have. At the end of week 6 the staff member will have a brief 1 to 1 with their line manager followed by an online questionnaire to assess training effectiveness and their thoughts.

This is just one suggestion to make blended learning an effective alternative to traditional training, but all learning can be tailored to meet individual requirements. Whatever your needs, I would be delighted to discuss them with you.

I asked you earlier; “how can I train my staff effectively, whilst keeping down the financial and time costs?” We cannot get away from the fact that developing staff will take up some time and yes, it will cost – hard cash as well as possible lost opportunity costs. But, if you want to have skilled people you need to invest.

Why not get in touch to talk about  how you like your coffee?

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2 Responses to Training is like coffee – you need the right blend!

  1. Pingback: Training is like coffee – you need the right blend! « PMChat

  2. Pingback: Practical project management training – it works! | Project Management Training with Ron Rosenhead

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