What is the purpose of internal training programs?
Plenty of internal training programs for employees are designed for bringing revenue to the business.
One of my biggest fears is that our team would become complacent. Chilling in their comfort zone.
The sole reason I started DevriX was the opportunity to tackle complex enterprise-grade projects from different angles.
That’s how we started our marketing team and became a HubSpot agency partner. This evolved in a different vertical dealing with programmatic advertising and several other areas of proficiency.
And I refer to myself as a “learnaholic”. I study weekly, take on exciting, new challenges, and keep pushing further.
To balance things out, we started with designing our own one-to-one programs and different workshops and internal training curriculums. Growing together as a team, outlining growth roadmaps, and keeping everyone on the same page (and motivated) is paramount.
Internal Training Schedules of DevriX
Every company has designed different workflows long before a trainer is approached for a class.
For instance, we’ve got regular meetings and internal training sessions at DevriX that currently look like this:
A Monday all-hands meeting from 10:30 am to 11:30 am (30min for the entire team and 30min for several departments, discussing sprints and problems).
Tuesday is for consulting and coaching sessions for some of our tech members.
Wednesdays are for holding workshops every other week around 1:30 pm.
Thursday is when we have our management meeting at 1:30 pm for an hour, with a couple of management meetings afterward.
And finally, on Fridays, we have report prep and bi-monthly training meetings for our entire technical team.
Some of our team members start around 9 am and others commence at 1 pm. 1:30 pm is a suitable time to start (whenever possible) and our evenings are busier than usual due to clients across different time zones.
Sometimes, activities around 11:00 am make sense in case later shift members won’t need to attend. Evening classes don’t suit us due to the active business hours between 6 pm and 10 pm.
Other companies approach that differently. Back in my training days, I had different training schedules for companies:
- 10 am – 2 pm for 4-hour long classes during the first half of the day
- 11 am – 12:30 pm or 12:30 pm – 2 pm which overlaps (slightly) with the lunch break but gets the job done since employees often don’t schedule calls or meetings around lunch
- 5 pm – 7 or 8 pm for “after hours” assignments (this is often a blocker for parents)
Frequency and Length of Internal Training Programs
Short-term memory is a bit limited, which is why you tend to forget more the longer the gap between two training sessions is.
This is one of the reasons why learning a foreign language on-site is a lot more effective than taking a class. Sure, you’ll basically be exposed to additional context jogging your brain, but regularity is one of the key principles.
Also, this is partially the reason why working out requires several gym trips during the week, not a 5-hour stint on a Saturday. Your muscles are a lot more effective if you train them every other day instead of maxing them out once every week or two.
What about studying for an exam? So many students pull an allnighter or two right before the exam, and barely remember anything a week after.
Regular sprints while learning a new skill tend to work better than a weekend of hard work.
Of course, there are different exceptions that may be valid here.
- Certain skills take a little longer. Two hours may not be enough to get “in the zone” and effectively consume information, resulting in the type of outcome you will remember.
- Two hours daily may be hard to squeeze in continuously. You can probably put 5 to 6 days continuously, but if you’re practicing after a day job or school, you’ll get the occasional birthday party, a family event, going to the movies, etc.
- Working in a collab with other people over the course of a full weekend (say, a workshop or a hackathon) may be more beneficial simply because you work together with other people.
- The learning process may entail some required paperwork — for instance, in development, you may need to pull the latest changes of a group report, familiarize yourself with them, spend time on documentation, testing, staging deploys etc which minimizes the actual working impact.
I would probably opt for a slightly different schedule, such as three 2h long sessions during the week and 2x four hours each over the weekend. This gives you enough flexibility to work around this schedule.
Qualities of The Trainers
The three leading questions I ask myself before calling a trainer or a consultant who will conduct or lead our internal training programs are the following.
- How well is the trainer prepared to work with my group of trainees? This includes soft skills, industry expertise, and the ability to reassure the class that this training serves a purpose.
- Can I trust the hard skills of the trainer? Is this trainer well-versed in this class, able to overcome common obstacles, and apply unique approaches as needed to ensure the end goal is met?
- Is this trainer credible enough? Can I get access to the class upfront, watch conference/training talks on this subject, or read testimonials by other managers who are assigned the same task?
To sum this up, I look for communication skills, hard skills, and credibility.
Even the most skilled professional may suck at conveying the idea to the class. This is the reason why tons of industry professionals aren’t great trainers (or teachers).
Consulting or training requires a different aptitude, studying the theoretical part of the problem, going through different approaches, and stressing the benefits of the class.
Moreover, there’s always a trainee or two trying to give a trainer a hard time. Handling these properly, with unique assignments or by unifying the group well enough, is quite important for the whole group.
Hard skills are also important, of course. Curiosity sparks questions, and aligning the theoretical skills to practical problems on the job should yield a positive answer or two on solving complex problems.
Credibility is the missing piece between both. If #1 and #2 check out, what is the easiest way to ensure that the class, as a whole, goes as expected? Most trainers publish some of their training videos online, sell online courses, or publish references and testimonials from previous groups.
Certain niche topics may require some leap of faith, and that’s fine. But all in all, this is the key checklist I use before I touch base with a trainer for my teams.
Training Approach That Works
There are different kinds of employees in a company in terms of personality and perspective towards learning and training. Different kinds of employees mean different groups of trainees needing different kinds of training approaches.
This is why a good trainer starts with studying his audience upfront.
Adult training sessions, unlike school and university classes, are designed for skill growth for career purposes. There are two commonly identified groups of trainees in similar training sessions:
- Actively engaged students who realize the importance of the course
- Trainees enrolled because they “require” a certification (or have to take a class regardless)
As a business owner or a senior manager, your responsibility is to identify these trainees and classify them in the corresponding category. This is important. The broader group will determine the tone of the training, and the speaker will align the curriculum in a corresponding manner.
Handling Enthusiastic Trainees
Enthusiastic trainees require an engaging training approach. This includes storytelling, revealing the business context of the training at hand, and a practical breakdown of the program. The end outcome is learning the curriculum at hand and realizing the importance of the new class in their jobs.
This group of people is passionate about learning new skills because they want to ace their assignments or work hard for the next promotion. Or they are simply scholars who genuinely love their craft (and understand the importance of staying on top).
More often than not, professional speakers will approach the class with a humorous story revealing a weakness. One that would have been prevented if the class was undertaken beforehand. Setting the foundations of the class and referring back to the humiliating moment that all of us would love to skip whenever possible.
Dealing With Less Enthusiastic Trainees
The second group is less engaged, but the trainer’s responsibility is teaching the class anyway.
This is why a pragmatic, frank, direct approach even works best.
Professional trainers aim to build rapport with the audience. And since the second group is less inclined to adhere to the assignment, a creative, yet bonding approach, could do wonders.
“Okay group, today we’ll be discussing X. I realize that this isn’t the most exciting topic for most of you, and that’s fine. What you need to understand is that learning XYZ will make you more effective on the job, cross more assignments off of your plate, and get the next promotion sooner rather than later.
My goal today is to crunch the boring information into practical tips that are easy to remember and follow on the job. I’ve prepared several checklists for you and I’ll share the handouts later. What I need from you is following the program with me and understanding why this skill will increase your performance (and help you excel at the job.)”
While this seems like a boring way to approach a problem, it’s a way to level the field and build an initial form of rapport.
Depending on the business objectives, a trainer may stress on the important outcome of the class, the opportunity of a promotion, taking on different opportunities that could be performed remotely (or teaching employees internally or at events), including some scarcity in case the competition is already ahead of the game, or revealing the power of a new software which would make their lives easier.
I’ve led over a hundred technical training courses — some more exciting and others not as much. In any case, adjusting the training workflow to the attitude in the room builds awareness, leading to better results and generally gets the group closer to the desired outcome.
If you had free access to my consulting program or meet me in person at a conference for 2 hours…
What would be the first problem you’d like to get solved? 🤔
I’m working on new training materials and group programs for the coming months and I want to focus on the most pressing and common problems first.
You may reach out via https://mariopeshev.com/contact/ and let me know the first thing that goes to your mind!