In last week’s “Win the battle of the budget by planning brown-bag training lunches,” I suggested that one way to get training accomplished is by following your users’ stomachs—and treating them to lunch while you do formal or informal training. (You can read that article by following the link in the Related Columns section in the top-right navigation bar.)

This week, I’m following up on that column with two letters I received from TechRepublic passport members Barrett Buss and Althea Chrystall. Barrett also believes in feeding his trainees, while Althea suggests breaking the training into two parts—overview seminars for large groups and hands-on training in smaller groups. Thanks very much to Barrett and Althea for sharing their stories. (If you’d like to share your secret for getting training done on a shoestring budget, please send me a note .)

Dinged if you don’t train
”I work for a service related firm (public relations). In our agency, the problem was always getting people to commit to half- or full-day courses that made it difficult for them to meet billability targets. In each annual satisfaction survey, however, the IT department got dinged for not providing adequate training.

“Our solution was to purchase an annual license for prewritten training manuals on disk. Our trainer then split the classes up to create a series of weekly one-and-a-half-hour sessions. The classes take place over the lunch hour, and we cater in pizza at the end of the session. The response has been good, and we have ensured that the people who needed training the most have been in the classes. For a little sweat, about $1,400 in manual licensing fees, and about $20 per class in pizza and soda we have a training program. The only drawback is that the main trainer can’t even look at pepperoni anymore.”

Barrett Buss

Preview first, train later
“Most training companies offer ‘off-the-shelf’ training and a lot of the time, the students are transitioning from one version to another or from one manufacturer to another. This means that the student (delegate) has to endure the boredom of ‘learning’ what they knew already.

“As an instructor (and broker) we get around this by offering seminar style training. This means that you run a seminar for 70 or 80 people in two-hour sessions to familiarize them with the concepts (this cuts back on all the elementary stuff that they probably knew or could find out by themselves) and incorporate a ‘walk-through’ of the basics of the subject. This is followed by a one-day instructor-led, hands-on training session (numbers not to exceed 12) where we get down to the nitty gritty of the subject.

“This way, the client is making the most of its budget and not wasting it on training people on the ‘no brainer’ aspects—and the delegates don’t get bored either. The seminar is an ideal time to introduce the software and fire up the enthusiasm in the delegate, giving them a taste of what is to come. Consequently they arrive at the training ready and raring to go. Very often the delegate starts to ‘play’ with the software after the seminar and by the time they get into the training room, they have either made their own discoveries which they are eager to share or have simply overcome a lot of their initial frustrations.

“This concept is a win-win—the company saves money, the delegate benefits without getting bored, and the instructor does not feel like he/she is ‘pushing the bus up the hill’ (more job satisfaction). Oh, and to incorporate another of your very good articles,* the evaluations are better because the level of delegate achievement is higher. Hope that this throws another perspective to your great article!”

Althea Chrystall

Senior Partner / Project Manager

Executive Education

*Althea is referring to Bruce Maples’ column “Don’t cut corners by skipping (or not paying attention to) your training evaluations.” You can read that article by following the link in the Related Columns section in the top-right navigation bar on this page.
How do you find room in the budget and time in the day for training? Sendme a note to share your experiences with your training colleagues.