Training – an effective tool for change
To be efficient and effective as sales managers, there are a number of things we need to learn and become good at ourselves. One of the 6 pillars of sales management is building and developing your team.
Every time we ask our teams to perform something that is new to them, we need to step into the develop and build area to develop the new skills and behaviors. Sometimes you have the option to bring in professional trainers, but for most daily learning, you cannot bring in external resources.
In this article, you will find some hints and tips for how you can plan your own trainings for your teams.
5 steps to build a training that sticks
As you are not (and we assume you do not want to become) a full-time teacher/trainer, we advise you to use this knowledge to build only short, condensed, and interactive sessions, rather than full-day or multiday trainings.
Longer trainings are very complex to build and difficult to run. They require a rich set of competencies to achieve real learning in the team.
The 5 steps to remember when we are to build effective trainings are outlined below.
1. ENSURE YOU KNOW THE SUBJECT
Gain a thorough understanding of the materials and the messages that you want to convey. You don’t need to be a black belt 5-star expert, but you need to know enough to convey the content in a credible manner and be able to answer basic questions around the subject.
2. UNDERSTAND THE PROCESS OF LEARNING
There are many pedagogical models and methods available. One model that we have chosen in this context is called 4MAT. Dr. Bernice McCarthy (USA) developed the first basic structure of the 4MAT system in the late 1970s. Since then, the method has systematically and continuously been used, developed, and linked to the newest research in the field ( http://www.4mat.eu ).
Basically, the model stresses that people have different learning styles. This means that for ANY training we want to build, we need to accommodate for these different learning styles and build our training block so that all phases are included. Some people are focused on:
- WHY? – “Once I understand why we need something, I’ll figure out the rest.”
- WHAT? – Intellectually understand what is needed: “If you give me the book to read or present to me in a lecture, I will do it myself later.”
- HOW? – Activity: “Ok, I got it, just let me try myself. Let’s see here…”
- WHAT IF?-Finding and testing alternatives. “And why couldn’t we do it this other way?”
3. MASTER A WIDE VARIETY OF METHODS – AND LEARN WHEN TO USE THEM
Try to use a wide variety of techniques in your trainings. Vary your style so you can both lead the class and use more interactive methods.
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4. A TRAINING SESSION HAS THREE PHASES – BEFORE, DURING AND AFTER – USE THEM
A common mistake is to only focus on the training session itself when we design the training. Especially since we want to build short, concentrated blocks, it will be extremely important to use before and after in a good way.
- BEFORE: Preparation by all involved
- DURING: A well-designed training session
- AFTER: Structured and active follow-up
As you can see in the picture below, a good way to plan your training sessions is to map the content and the technique blocks you are planning to use against a WHY?, WHAT?, HOW? And WHAT IF? timeline.
The preparatory tasks you send out lend themselves very well for the WHY? And to some extent WHAT?, so that you can spend more time in the classroom for WHAT? and HOW? After the session, it will be about putting the learning into practice, and therefore to the HOW? and experimenting with the WHAT IF? The experiences are ideally captured and shared in a separate follow-up session.
Plan the activities carefully and think through the steps, creating and writing what we call the Running Master, or Timing Plan.
It should contain:
- Objective– Learning points
- Preparations(for the teacher)
- Before – Preparations for participant – timing/dates
- During – Blocks, content and method/technique – timing minutes
- After – How to put to practice and follow up.
5. MAKE WHAT YOU LEARN A PART OF DAILY WORK
Only 10% of the effect in a change effort comes from lectures, training, and reading. 20% can be attributed to tools, systems, and structure such as feedback supporting the training and the changed behaviour. Finally, 70% derives from on-the-job training and experiences.
Unless on-the-job training, experiences, and reinforcement of the tools and behaviours learnt are truly put into daily use, changed behaviours will not succeed.
If you are the manager of the team you hold the training for, you have a fantastic advantage compared to most teachers and trainers around. Most trainings fail due to lack of management support, follow-up, and integration of the matter into daily work. You, on the other hand, have all the cards in your hand to actually make it stick!