Wednesday, June 6, 2007

The Basics for a Successful In-House Training Program


By: Dr Donald E. Wetmore

As a Professional Speaker, I have conducted hundreds of in-house training programs during the last eighteen years and I have observed several practices that make in-house training work better than not. This is not a comprehensive list, or all inclusive, for that matter. It does represent what I would consider the more important “basics” for a successful in-house program.

1. Giving information v changing behavior. Presumably, one of the outcomes of the program is that people will change what they do and how they do. It’s not what happens in the training room that counts as much as what happens after it is over. The hardest thing to get anyone to do (myself included) is to change their behavior. We all value our “comfort zones”. Therefore, attention ought to be given to not only “what to do” and “how to do it”, but, more importantly, “why” they ought to do it. Without an understanding of “why” it ought to be done, it is difficult for adult learners to consider changing what they do.

2. What do I do next? End the program with the answer to that question. Give them a list of specific practices to follow, what additional information or resources they will need to secure and how to get them, or whatever it is that they need to do to now get the value from the program into their lives. Just like when a doctor releases a patient, give them the follow-up plan of action to put into practice what was discussed in the program.

3. Offer the program as a reward, not as a punishment. Sounds silly, but some companies use in-house programs to correct deficiencies and failures, almost as a punishment for their failings. Attendees are forced to go to get corrected. Position your programs as an enhancement of whatever they are and wherever they may be. In my Time Management Seminars, people are never invited because “they are broken and I’m going to fix them”. I am not going to make them productive. Everyone is productive. The question is, and the emphasis of my programs is, “how much more productive can we help you to become?”

4. Allow only a qualified instructor in the front of the room. Anyone can spend a little time researching to give a “book report” on a topic. Audiences are perceptive. They know when an instructor has “walked the talk”. They know when an instructor is only one chapter ahead of them. Giving a weak program does two things. First, it probably does not accomplish what it was intended to do. Second, and more important, while it is generally a struggle to get people to commit to training in the first place, you are only as good as your last program. If the last program they attended failed to not only meet, but exceed, their expectations, if their lives were really no different after taking the last program, then there will be even more resistance to attending what you offer next.

5. Don’t hold the in-house program in-house. I know about training budgets and issues of convenience. Half of the in-house programs I conduct are on company premises. Having an in-house training room is an asset. The problem may be, however, that it might not be the proper venue for what you need to accomplish. If the training room is on premises, the participants’ temptation is to go back to work during the breaks, to get caught up on email and voicemail, and be interrupted in the session since they are in the building. Often they are coming back late and not having a focus on what the program is intended to accomplish. Holding the session off-site, at a hotel, for example, has an additional cost but alleviates the problems and makes the event somewhat more special. I ask my audiences to be with me not only physically, but also emotionally, just for the duration of the program because they will get a lot more out of it. I ask them to ignore their problems until our program is over, assuring them that their problems will still be there when they return.

For information about hosting our Time Management Seminar on site, at your location, from groups of any size, email your request for “on site” to:

Dr. Donald E. Wetmore
Professional Speaker
Productivity Institute
Time Management Seminars
127 Jefferson St.
Stratford, CT 06615
(203) 386-8062 (800) 969-3773
Visit Our Time Management Supersite:

Professional Member-National Speakers Association

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