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Giving people focus for learning

If you're a manager and you're sending your team members on training programmes, you really need to put some time in before they go.

"My manager told me to come" is probably the most dreaded response to a question about why an attendee is on a course, or what they are hoping to get from a programme. I'm sure it's often accurate, but if this is the response that one of your team might give, you're definitely missing an important trick.

Why is it a problem?

For anyone to get the best out of a course, it's important that they look at the content, think about their current skills and consider what they are hoping will be different at the end of the training. Without a personal aim in mind, it's difficult to focus, to pick out the critical elements of the training and most importantly, to apply what you're learning to real life problems or situations.

Being "sent on a course" without any insight as to why is a confusing message - is there something wrong with current performance? Is there something important that you need to know how to do? Is something changing? Or maybe you're just there to make up the numbers. It's hard to commit to learning and open yourself up to the learning environment without really understanding why you're there in the first place.

Avoiding the problem is simple: If you're going to ask a team member to attend a training course, spend some time with them first of all discussing why you'd like them to attend. What is their main aim for learning? What do you want them to be able to do at the end of the training and what do you see as a successful outcome? Talk to your team member about why this is the right programme for them, and how you think it will help them. The same discussion needs to be held for someone asking to attend training - why do they want to go, what are the outcomes they expect, how do they think this course will help?

Training programmes often represent a significant investment, both in terms of cost and in terms of time spent away from the day job, so it's important to make sure that you, and your team members are making the most of that. The good news is that it's a simple, quality conversation that can make all the difference between someone who has been "sent on a course" and someone who sees the value in their course and learns with focus - that's a much better outcome all round.


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