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6 Top Tips for Writing Joining Instructions

Joining instructions are sent out by the trainer to the learners in advance of a training programme or workshop commencing. Joining instructions should include all the appropriate information the learner needs to know to arrive in the right place, at the right time, and so that they are properly prepared to begin the learning. Here are my top 6 tips for writing joining instructions:

1. Venue – include the full address and post code of the training venue. Along with the venue, it is a good idea to include the actual training room, or part of the building where the training is to take place. This saves a lot of time at the start of the programme looking for stray learners. I would also include a map if people are having to travel to get to the venue, and give details of any parking/special security arrangements.

2. Programme objectives  and content, and personal objectives   – it is vitally important that the person attending the training has an insight in to what the aims and content of the programme are so they can prepare themselves for the learning. It is also important that the learners consider their own personal goals prior to the programme commencing. This will enable them to focus on the achievement of these goals and to ensure the trainer is able to facilitate these being fulfilled within the learning experience.

3.Timings – include the start and finish times each day. Often I will ask for an arrival time 15 minutes before the actual programme starts – this allows everyone to meet each other, have a coffee and to start to get to know each other, before the programme officially begins.

4. Dress code – this may not seem like a vital element, but I have delivered courses where all but one person is in the staff uniform, and that person has felt uncomfortable all day because they look different to everyone else. This can be unsettling and a barrier to the learning. Ensure you clearly state whether it is business dress/informal/company uniform or some other dress code that is required.

5. Delegate list and trainer contact details – it can be useful for the learners to make contact with other learners in advance of the programme; some may even share lifts or turn up together on the course. This can help a person to overcome any nerves or anxiety they may have about joining a new group. Ideally the trainer should make contact with the learners prior to the event. But it is still a good idea to include the trainer’s contact details in case they have any questions or queries about the training. – this should include a variety of contact options such as email, phone number etc. This may be a quick call about how to get to the training venue for example, or it may be an opportunity for them to express any fears or concerns they may have about the actual content/delivery of the training.

6. Provision of food, drink and any accommodation – food and drink will help the learners to feel comfortable, relaxed and able to concentrate and focus on the learning throughout the day. So it is important that we let them know if this will be included, or if they need to bring their own sustenance. I have delivered programmes where the client has served up a full three course meal at lunchtime, and at other times the learners have had to go out and catch the sandwich van at a certain time of the morning. Obviously it depends on how long the training is going to be, how many learners there are , how far they are travelling etc, but at the very least, it is good to provide a hot drink at break times and water on the tables during the day.

There are lots of other points that could be added to this list, such as any pre-course work the learner needs to complete in advance. What other points would you add to this list? How important do you feel the joining instructions are?

Once you have compiled the joining instructions, they need to be sent out in advance of the training programme commencing. Generally I would send these out at least two weeks before the programme, but not too far in advance that they get lost or at the very worst, they forget to turn up!

Best wishes,

Sandra

SC Training Solutions

5 Top Tips on Planning Activities in Training Sessions

As I mentioned in my last blog, there are lots of benefits to be gained from getting the group more involved in the learning process. But any activities need to be carefully planned in order to get the desired learning outcome. Here are my top 5 tips:

1. Expected Outcome

Without an expected outcome, an activity will not add value, and may just be seen as a time filler. Activities at the beginning of a training session can be used to create interest in the topic. During the main part of the session, activities are useful for taking the learning forward or developing understanding, and at the end of the session they can be used to consolidate the learning.

2. Organisation

A trainer needs to think about the activity they are planning to deliver, in terms of organisation.i.e. Are break out rooms required, for example? How much time will it take? What equipment and materials will be needed? How is the group going to split?

3. Briefing

The group need to be accurately briefed in order for the activity to be effective. Instructions need to be clear i.e. the why, what ,who, when, where, and how.

4. Managing the Activity

It is very tempting for a trainer to relax, check emails, get a coffee etc whilst the group are working on an activity which is not tutor-led. However it is essential that the group is carefully managed, to check they are on the right lines, and to feed them in with an idea if they get stuck. Often by just being available, a trainer will get asked questions to clarify a point or to seek reassurance on an idea.

5. Feedback/Summing up of the Activity

Once the activity has been completed it is vital that the trainer asks the group for their feedback on the activity.i.e. What results did they achieve? Did they achieve the desired learning outcome? What would they do differently if they did it again? Why did they draw those conclusions? It is also an opportunity for the trainer to summarise and to bring in any missed points, to bring it all together and to maximise the learning for the group as whole.

So how much planning do you do before adding an activity to your training? Do you always get the desired learning outcome? If you would like to learn more about incorporating activities in to training sessions, then please contact me.

Benefits of Increasing Participation in Training Sessions

“I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand”.

Confucius – Chinese philosopher & reformer (551 BC – 479 BC)

I often use this quote when training trainers, as it really brings home the importance of getting the group more involved in the learning process. Some learners are auditory, and learn best by listening and speaking, others are visual learners, and learn by seeing and reading. But we must not forget the kinesthetic learners that learn by touching and doing. By getting the learner participating in the training session, whether through questioning techniques or some sort of exercise or activity, the potential for the learning of the whole group is maximised, therefore making your training sessions much more effective and productive. The training will be more fun and stimulating for the learner, but also for you as a trainer.

Learning is often increased the more an individual is involved and allowed to participate in the learning process. This is because the learner is given more time on a particular subject area, and is encouraged to think and make sense of the information given. They will then be able to relate the learning to their own experiences and assimilate the information at their own pace, level and style. Getting learners more involved increases interest and motivation, and can make the learning much more enjoyable for everyone involved.

Another one of the benefits of increasing participation in training sessions is that it allows the trainer to gauge if the pace and level of the training is right, and if the desired level of understanding has been reached. It allows the trainer to clarify points of confusion or misunderstanding, and learning can be measured or consolidated to achieve learning outcomes. It allows for much more flexibility of approach and enables techniques to be used that meet different learning and trainer styles.

There are lots of ways to get the learners more involved. Icebreakers can warm up a group at the beginning of a training session, and can help to establish a connection between participants. Energisers can invigorate a group at the start of a training session, at a break, or particularly after lunch, or as we trainers call it ‘The Graveyard Shift! They can increase energy and motivation, encourage creativity and help the concentration levels within the group.

But there are other types of interactive methods that can aid the learning process. Activities such as facilitated exercises, syndicate work and discussions can all help to take the learning forward or develop understanding. Individual, pairs or exercises in groups of three can all be introduced in to a training session depending on numbers, nature of the topic and desired learning outcomes. Quizzes, games, case studies and post-it work can also be fun and stimulating ways to consolidate a training session.

Next time I will discuss the factors to consider when incorporating interactive methods in to your training sessions.

How interactive, fun and effective are your training sessions? If you want to learn more about how to maximise learning through increasing participation, then please contact me.

How to Identify Potential Trainers in Your Business

I often get asked by clients how they can identify potential trainers in their business. Clients ask me who would make a good trainer, and what sort of skills, qualities or attributes they should have.

I have thought long and hard about this, and it is not an easily definable area. However, I do think there are certain attributes, skills or qualities to look for when identifying potential trainers. I have listed some of these below, and some potential questions to ask:

Credibility

What have they done in their present role to show their credibility as a trainer? Do people ask them for help? Do they have experience and technical competence in their area of work? Do they perform consistently to high standards and are they aware of and in contact with ‘shop floor’ issues?

Coaching/Feedback Skills

Do they have examples of coaching others, or giving feedback to someone on their performance? How did they give that feedback? Can they demonstrate:

  • Consideration for individuals feelings
  • Set the venue appropriately
  • Used appropriate language
  • Talked about specific standards met/ not met
  • Discussed improvements to be made
  • Discussed how to make those improvements
  • Agreed action and followed up

Commitment and motivation to develop staff

Have they developed themselves in the last 12 months? For example:

  • Attended training programmes
  • Asked for feedback on performance
  • Specific targets worked towards
  • Out of work courses/ night school
  • Taken on extra work/ responsibilities

Commitment and motivation to develop others

What have they done to develop others in the last 12 months? For example:

  • Discussed development options
  • Set reading
  • Training programmes
  • Specific targets
  • Cross training
  • Multi-skilling
  • Coaching session
  • Counselling session
  • Feedback
  • Helped solve problems

Verbal Skills

For example, do they:

  • Speak clearly and concisely
  • Answer questions appropriately
  • Explain information in a simple & logical way, avoiding too much jargon
  • Listen effectively

Written Skills

Do they write in a clear and legible way? Do they use appropriate language?

Key Qualities

There are lots of qualities that could be listed here. But you could ask for evidence and/or observe that they are approachable, empathetic, honest and trustworthy, have integrity, are non judgemental and patient, but most of all do they have a sense of humour and passion to make the training fun and memorable.

This is by all means not a definitive list, but it may be a starting point in identifying the right type of person to attend a train the trainer progamme. Do you have anything to add? What would make a good trainer in your business? I would welcome your comments.

Best wishes

Sandra

Why do we need to Train the Trainer?

Why do we need to train the trainer? Afterall, we know the person has the skills and knowledge of the subject area, so why can’t they just pass their skills and knowledge on?

Well, it is important to realise that any trainer needs two separate sets of skills and knowledge to train others. Firstly, they absolutely do need to know the topic they are training (subject matter expertise); but secondly, they need to know how to transfer that information to the learner (instructional expertise).

The trainer needs to know the subject matter very well; and in order to know a subject well enough to train it, a trainer often needs to have expert experience or knowledge at a much higher level than the level they are training. But as well as this, trainers need to acquire the instructional expertise, or trainer training. Often it is assumed that because a person has the knowledge and skills of the subject area, they will be able to train others. But this isn’t necessarily the case. Training is an entirely new set of skills.

Whoever is being trained, a trainer can’t just explain a subject to the participants, and then expect them to “get it.” Training is more than just simple transference of knowledge. A trainer needs to know how to organise that knowledge, properly present it in a variety of formats for those who have different learning styles and preferences, and talk about the topic in a way that the participants can understand and learn from.

Training is costly, so when it is done, it needs to be done effectively and with maximum impact. A trainer needs to be clear and confident in their delivery, and know how to build and maintain rapport throughout the training session. A trainer needs to be able to adapt to meet the needs of different learning and behavioural styles, and to be able to learn the techniques to engage and stimulate interaction and involvement.

An effective train the trainer progamme will have a positive impact on the participants. It will help the trainer to transform their training programmes and workshops in to multi-layered, interactive, effective and energising learning experiences that will ensure long-term retention of information by the learners, and thereby increase their productivity and effectiveness.

Of course, once trained , the trainer is then a valuable in-house resource for the organisation.  They will be able to respond quickly to learning needs, saving time and effort of finding an appropriate training resource outside the organisation.The trainer will have the knowledge of the people and the culture and systems of the organisation to create tailor-made training projects. They will have a high understanding of issues facing the organisation and consequently will be able to deliver the most relevant content. Not forgetting the money it will save you in sourcing external trainers. But ultimately training your in-house trainers will maintain your commitment to training and developing your staff.

Train the Trainer training can help you do all of these things, and more.

Best Wishes

Sandra

15 Years in Business Today!

SC Training Solutions is proud to announce 15 years in business today!

Wow, it doesn’t seem 5 minutes since I set up the company back in May 1997. At the time I was working as National Training Manager for a large organisation, but I had thought about running my own business for a while before then.

The trigger for taking the leap was a past employer who contacted me to offer me three months consultancy work if I was to go it alone. Maybe that was just the kick I needed, and fifteen years on, I have no regrets in taking the plunge. Business has had its ups and downs, but on the whole I have been very fortunate to have steady work coming in over the years. I have some fantastic clients, old and new, and I thank them for all their help and support over the years.

Three words to sum up what has got me through the last 15 years: Passion, determination and professionalism.

Here’s to another 15 years!

Sandra

New Two Day Train the Trainer Programme!

This is a newly developed programme to respond to requests from employers for a shortened version of the three-day course that SC Training Solutions offers.

The two-day train the trainer programme is for corporate trainers, managers, supervisors, team leaders and heads of department who are responsible for writing and delivering interactive training to groups of people.

The course will help the trainer to transform their training programmes and workshops in to multi-layered, interactive, effective and energising learning experiences that will ensure long-term retention of information by the learners, and thereby increase their productivity.

Programme Objectives

By the end of the programme you will be able to:

  • Identify training activities and write objectives that are appropriate for interactive group training sessions
  • Plan accurate training sessions with support materials that reflect real practice and include appropriate information
  • Carry out interactive training sessions at a pace and sequence that maximises learning
  • Provide constructive feedback to learners following practice sessions

Programme Content

  • How people learn
  • Writing an instructional objective
  • Structuring training – Introduction, Development and Consolidation
  • Questioning techniques
  • Using visual aids and handouts
  • Using syndicates and exercises
  • Delegate practice sessions

The programme is informal and highly participative with active discussion, exchange of ideas, exercises and group work and practice sessions. Delegates will receive detailed feedback on their performance. This is a challenging course and there will be overnight homework to complete.

For further information please take a look around our website or contact us.

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