Should I Go?

Summer of ’82.  Fresh out of college.  Crank up the radio…

The Clash had their only #1 (in the UK) with “Should I Stay Or Should I Go” that summer.  Rolling Stone liked it, too, ranking it #228 on it’s 500 Greatest Songs of All Time list.

But when it comes to training, should you stay or should you go?

Last time we discussed what you should demand from a manufacturer’s training class. It should, in fact, be a training class, not a sales-pitch.  Application-based trumps product-based every time.

But what are your responsibilities?  How can you get the most out a training program?

Think of training as an investment. To maximize your ROI, start with these tips:

1.    Show up on time:  If the program starts at 8:00 AM, be there by 7:30.  You’ll get a good seat; get the Danish you want and get to meet the instructor. We like it when attendees arrive early to say “hi” and let us know what’s on their mind.

2.    Show up prepared: Yeah, bring a pen and paper, but being prepared means showing up with two or three specific things you’d like to learn or questions you’d like answered.  I often ask attendees what they’d like to learn and too often they shrug and say “everything.”  News flash: we trainers don’t know everything! We don’t have ESP, either.

Put some thought into why you’re going and what you’d like to learn.  Have a training plan.

3.    Sit up front: Had a conversation with my parish priest a few years ago.  He said the folks who habitually sit in back during mass are the ones who really ought to be sitting up front.

“I notice, John, you always sit in the back.  Do we need to talk?”

Are you there to learn something or are you there not to be noticed?

4.    Leave preconceived notions at the door:  No one knows it all (not even the instructor!), and you may hear things in class that go against the way you’ve always done stuff.  That’s okay.  Keep an open mind and remember why you’re there – to learn new and better ways of doing things.

5.    Ask questions and TAKE NOTES!!!!: Two non-negotiables.  Asking questions and participating in discussions are powerful tools to help stay focused.  Face it; it’s been a few years since we’ve been in school.  Sitting still is hard; focusing your attention for a full day is harder still.  Asking questions and participating keep you engaged.

Taking notes is the most beneficial thing you can do in a training class. Studies show if you do nothing more than listen, you’ll forget about 95% of the material within 3 days.  If training is an investment, that’s a pretty crappy ROI.

If you actively participate – by asking questions, joining discussions and, yes, taking notes – the retention rate hits the mid-50% range.  Better, but still not a great return.

Here’s where it gets interesting: the same studies show that studying your notes twice a week for 6 to 8 weeks boosts the retention rate to the mid-90% range.

At that point, it’s no longer something you heard some yutz say at a seminar.  It’s knowledge. It’s part of your skill set, something you can use in the field to help your customers and your business.

And that’s why you go to training in the first place, isn’t it?

There’s lots more to getting the most out of training.  We’ll tackle those next time.

Meanwhile, let’s Rock The Casbah

Shareef don’t like it…

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.