6 Steps to Facilitate a Training Workshop

“Older people sit down and ask, ‘What is it?’  But the boy asks, ‘What can I do with it?’”  by Steve Jobs.

Training workshops cause a mind shift and expand the knowledge, skills, abilities, and broaden the efforts of learners.  But managers, who are very good at what they do, are often asked to train their employees. Unfortunately, many managers don't know where to start, how to begin training, and how to improve productivity.  To solve this problem, Helen Dyrkacz has written the book, ‘The Trainer’s Inside Edge – What You Need to Know About Training Workshops’’.

Peter was asked to put on a one-day training session on customer service for front line workers.  He had done the occasional 20-minute presentation, but he did not have a clue on how to proceed for a workshop.  After careful study of Helen’s book, he followed the six key steps or competencies to facilitate a workshop and enabled them to deliver exemplary customer service. The main steps are:

1.  Perform a Needs Analysis – Before a workshop can be developed, the trainer needs to have a good understanding of the needs of both the organization and the employee and where each needs to be. During the analysis, the trainer should identify the performance gap or problem and determine its significance. The trainer would then gather information about the tasks and individuals involved. Afterwards, the trainer will develop a plan to fill in the gap with knowledge, abilities, and/or skill training. For example, an organization may need to strengthen their service delivery due to a high number of customer complaints in one area.  After conducting some research, the trainer may determine that the employees didn't have sufficient training for specific computer programs to satisfy the customers’ inquiries.

At this time, it is necessary for the trainer to seek support from managers or leaders.  With backing from management, the trainer will have the assurance that workers will be supported in the new approaches and be accountable for the results. 

2.  Design the Program – Determine the objectives of the workshop and an early roadmap on how the end results will be met.  What is the course intended to accomplish and what is the desired outcome?  Figure out the most important components.  Consider the participants’ experience and background, delivery methods, content, constraints, organizational culture, timing, resources, criteria, and standards of performance. This is a very important aspect when planning the course. This will take some time; however, careful planning at the front end will ensure positive results.

3.  Design the Learning Experience – From the course objectives, the trainer will create a detailed course syllabus and develop the materials.  Research the subject matter, conduct any necessary interviews, and explore a variety of training methods. Considerations include the size of the classroom, on-the-job or blended training, face-to-face training and/or computer based training.  Online courses and webinars are also popular.  Consider exercises to get the ideas across to participants such as case studies, role-playing with “difficult” clients, or an escape room activity for team building. Remember that participants learn best when they are having fun! Try to include games in your activities. 

4.  Facilitate the Learning Experience – Prepare for the big day and set the environment where participants are welcomed and encouraged to take part. 

Icebreakers are presented for participants to get to know each other and start the day with some fun.  The focus is on sharing personal information such as their names and interests, but also to find out what they hope to achieve from the training session.

During the content delivery, include a variety of exercises to engage the participants and foster their learning.  Use classroom discussions about the relevancy of the material and practical applications in the workplace.  Invite discussions about real life challenging scenarios.

Be sure to include some training energizers. 

Periodically assess the learning.  This is a wonderful place to play some games and interject the new concepts or techniques to reinforce the material.  For example, participants may be given some problems and they need to find the results using a new computer program.  Teams could be formed and the team that completes the exercise first wins a prize.

5.  Support the Transfer of Learning – After a course is completed, the sad reality is that some trainers will never see their participants again.  However, there should also be some follow up to ensure that the participants are applying what they have learned. Also, if there are questions or concerns, they need somewhere to go.  Some trainers will send out reminders of the main concepts of the workshop.  Other organizations have set up Facebook groups or an accountability partner in which participants can share their experiences and bounce ideas around.

6.  Evaluate Learning – At the end of the workshop, trainers often go back to the objectives and training needs to ensure that they have been met.  Often “smile” sheets are the only evaluation tool that is done. While it will assess the effectiveness of the training workshop, it does not assess the application on the job.

Ideally, there should be an evaluation of the transfer of learning.  What do the participants actually practice on the job and what is their contribution to the organization?  How has their performance improved or changed as a result of the training workshop?  Did the organization achieve the results they expected from the employee attending the training?  This can be conducted by management or the training team, with reporting back to management and followed up with corrective action, if required.

By following these six steps to effective workshop training, the participants will gain a new set of knowledge, skills, and abilities where they can make a significant impact in the workplace. The participants will learn new approaches and find new applications in conducting business, which will increase their productivity and obtain better results.  The workshop trainer will ensure that the needs of the organization are met. 

These six steps are covered in greater detail in Helen Dyrkacz’s book, ‘The Trainer’s Inside Edge – What You Need to Know About Training Workshops’.

Do you have any questions about planning, preparing, delivering and evaluating workshops and how you can do it?   Check this out and you will receive a copy of the first three Chapters of the Trainer’s Inside Edge.

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