Workplace Staff Training: Terrific or Torturous?

Grevis Beard
March 20, 2019
Grevis Beard, Worklogic

We’ve all been there. Stuck in tedious, mandatory staff training sessions on appropriate workplace behaviour or organisational values, where everyone (including the trainer) is just going through the motions in order to tick off policy compliance.

If you are the well-intentioned organiser of this type of training and have had your program roundly disparaged across the organisation, then don’t despair! It doesn’t have to be this way!

Here’s a plethora of suggestions for how you can make your training more terrific, and less torturous, next time round:

1. Making your training ‘zing’

Take a big step back and be brutally honest about the length, content, colour and movement of your training materials.

Whilst we all know that “death by PowerPoint” is to be avoided, have you actually taken that on board? Or do we lack the confidence or time to liberally apply the fairy dust, and do the major surgery or reconstruction we know that those training materials need? If it is really that necessary to provide a shopping list of information, how digestible and enticing is it for those attending? Your training materials should be entrancing – they should zing!

Rather than just talking through endless slides for an hour, mix it up. Here are some examples: “what’s been happening in this area recently”, “did you know?”, “common myths about”.

If a picture does tell 1000 words, then (shocking concept) include those pictures! The internet is awash with fabulous content, so delve deeply and creatively into it. After all, if you are there to tell a story about values, behaviour or leadership, then, to channel Alice, “what good is a book (or training content) without pictures”? Run with symbols, photographs, famous film snap-shots, quotes in bold, bright colours.

Presenting at people on lofty visions and “the way forward” should be left to the Annual General Meeting. Splice and dice your training modules so that they are a rich cornucopia of activities, reflections, case studies and hypotheticals.

2. Customise for your audience

What can you do to encourage those attending to really feel that they are at a banquet of ideas, one that is stimulating visually, and intellectually? Identify the level of knowledge your audience already has on the topic and relate it to workplace situations that they would actually experience in their day-to-day life at work. This will help build in variety, relevance and interest. Customise your scenarios for different audiences, rather than rolling out one vanilla version for everyone that relates directly to no-one!

3. Leverage curiosity and the collective wisdom in the room

Get people to contribute to the content of your training module. There will always be valuable collective wisdom in the room, and so create ways to get that wisdom out and on the whiteboard and butchers paper, and then capture for further sharing after the session or incorporate into your module.

Remember that the role of the trainer is not only just about downloading the information. Build in time to explore and pose questions with the group, and encourage curiousity. Training is not just about the ‘what’. The focus should shift to the ‘why’ and ‘how’, in conversation with everyone in the room.

4. Build in humour

There is no law which says that humour is verboten in a training session. In fact, research shows that that initial effort to build rapport and show your personality will pay huge dividends in getting everyone on board for the training experience.

Too often, trainers think they need to speak as if they are delivering the nightly news, or a sermon (especially if talking about appropriate behaviour at work). This is hardly a great way to show that you wish to encourage participation and break down any barriers between trainer and attendees. So be yourself! That in turn gives permission for those in the room to also be themselves too. Whilst this can be a bit of a new direction, and possibly seem like a too vulnerable a place to occupy, it pays huge dividends.

It sends a message that training can be both informative and entertaining, and will ensure that key messages are explored openly and remembered after the session is over.

Just one proviso here: jokes are great, but only if everyone is truly laughing.

5. Get in an expert

Effective staff training on values and appropriate behaviour at work is a key way to improve your organisation’s culture and ensure everyone is safe and respected at work. But done badly, it can make it feel like your organisation is just paying lip service to these concepts.

If you need expert assistance to revamp your current training program or to deliver a training with zing and the power to change behaviour, then get in touch! Worklogic provides a comprehensive range of in-house training for organisations, big and small, across Australia. Co-founders, Grevis Beard and Rose Bryant-Smith are in-demand keynote speakers for conferences. Book them now for your speaking engagement.

About Grevis Beard

Grevis Beard is the co-founder and director of Worklogic. Grevis has significant knowledge of the dynamics of workplace disputes and their resolution. Grevis works with a range of clients to improve workplace communication, investigate inappropriate behaviour at work, manage workplace risks and handle complaints. He is an acclaimed speaker and author.

Worklogic works with employers to resolve workplace complaints and create a positive culture at work.
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