Training question - not related to E-Learning

Good morning,

I'm looking for some ideas for a series of in-person workshops (probably lunch-hour sessions) that I can put together to help people further their professional development.  Because of the way most of our departments are structured, there aren't a ton of obvious career paths set up, but we want to make sure we provide the great staff we have with a feeling of opportunity and show them how to develop their own path, whether they look to move into a different department or attempt to create a new position based on needs they've determined.  I'm also hoping to implement a site-wide job shadow program for new and existing employees, so one workshop will probably revolve around this, once I have it rolling.  I'd love to have them be interactive, so we can really provide those that attend with relevant assistance.  These types of lunch-hour sessions tend to either draw a huge crowd or flop miserably, so (aside from free pizza) I really want to offer something unique.  My goal for now is to hold something each quarter in 2014. 

I'd love to hear your thoughts and success stories

11 Replies
Laura M

Hi Nicholas,

I would say it's a bit of both.  I have only been with the company for a short time, so I've spent my time thus far meeting with department heads to see how I can help them specifically reach their team goals, analyzing employee engagement survey data and listening to feedback from individual employees (from new hires to long-time staff).  I am the only person specifically dedicated to training here, though I do have support from my manager.  I am trying to outline what the training goals for our site will be for 2014, so I figured it's time to come up with some real, attainable options  

In the past, the two larger companies I've worked for have had very clear-cut career paths for those people that wanted to work their way up the departmental ladder, as well as a lot of opportunity for lateral movement.  The differences in skills needed within the departments at my current organization are so varied, so it's not impossible, but it's not always easy and obvious to see what else is out there for you. 

Thank you for the link - I'll check it out later today!

Jerson  Campos

First of all, I think it's great that you are trying to accomplish this. Second, good luck. It seems like it will be a large and complicated project, but very beneficial to the company in the long run.

Will you also be creating/acquiring courses for employees who would like to gain skill to transfer to another department? It's great to show them what they need to do to move to the next level, but providing them the means to do it will also be nice.

Laura M

Nicholas - yes, to some employees, though not all.  After the survey data was presented, managers met with their groups to go over the details and obtain any specific feedback (since, naturally, the questions posed were somewhat generic and didn't provide much direction for those of us looking to implement change).  I then met with them to see what their staff said and what they felt would be beneficial for their teams, and the site in general.  So, I'm trying to start somewhere.  I know I can't solve everyone's gripes, but I think it would be helpful to show that we care enough to come up with some potential opportunities for people to take ownership of their path.  I think there is often some confusion around whose responsibility it is to set up goals (employees expecting their manager to hand them a list) and the fact that simply effectively doing your job does not equal a promotion.  How can you go strategically above and beyond?

Jerson - Ha, thanks  I think our company, in general, is very open to training and development, so I may have part of the workshop series focus on how to search for training outside of the organization, assess what would be beneficial to not only your own goals, but show how it can help the company, etc. in order to get buy-in from upper management.  There are certain specific things that I've been asked for (such as technical writing training), that I will try to look further into.  Maybe I'll compile a wishlist of random topics people have suggested and send out a survey to see what the real level of interest would be for group training and/or a pre-packaged e-learning course when it's something I don't feel comfortable tackling. 

Bob S

Hi Laura,

First, congrats on the new role.

A couple of things you might want to keep in mind...

Go for an easy win the first time out

Often times there can be a lingering sense of resentment or skepticism out there if the organization does not have an established culture of developing folks.  Rather than try and solve everything, choose a narrow topic that you know there is hunger for, and do that one thing well. It will build credibility for your efforts amongst those that attended, and  build "buzz" amongst those that didn't as they ask there peers about the session.

You may need to market this first session... relentelessly

Again if this is a new idea and format, you may not get the turnout you want if you just "put it out there".   You may have to market this in multiple ways to build awareness/desire. Consider the company intranet of course, but also table tent cards in the cafeteria, personal email invites to key influencers (and let them know why!), posters, etc etc. Your need to market this hard will diminish as you build buzz and credibility with the series (see above).

Follow up somehow

No matter how great a first session it is, you will want to find a reason to follow up with them. Maybe it's to send an inexpensive momento of the session (pen, bookmark, etc). Maybe its just congratulating them. Any excuse. But remember you are building culture here, not just providing training.

Hope some of these ideas help and good luck on the project!

Laura M

I appreciate the info, Bob.  And I completely agree with you on marketing.  I really want to come up with content deserving of a fabulously catchy marketing effort to make people interested in learning more.  I want buzz!  

I think the perception of the culture surrounding training varies from department to department and I hope to work towards an overall culture that embraces improving individuals as a means to improving the whole.  I know it will take time, but I see this workshop series as a first step. 

The plan to offer more skill-specific options, as I mentioned above, is a separate piece entirely.

Your ideas are great - I will be keeping them in mind.  

Laura M

Good point, Sara!  There have been lunch 'n learn type sessions offered before on a variety of topics (not necessarily from the HR department), so I haven't thought about that specifically.  We tend to provide separate training sessions for our non-exempt staff, since many of them work outside of the regular business schedule, so that's something I would need to talk through with the manager of that department. 

Kimberly Read

Laura, So it sounds like you are developing a training session that trains how to take ownership of your own professional development? It also sounds like the implied intent of learning would be to prepare for a promotion or advancement or to excel in one's current job function. 

It would probably be prudent to state in the session that participation and professional development is worthwhile even for those who want to firther develop in their current role. Sounds like there are a variety of roles and you mention there is no standard development or advancement path. This has been the case in all the organizations I've worked for as well. I'm guessing the training you are providing might be how to identify and lead a project that the participant initiates with the purpose of not only providing organizational value but to develop his or her skills in a given area of particular strength. Participants might need some direction on how to identify a need, obtain approval for the project, manage the project, report results and they may need support (such as a coach or mentor to be a sounding board) along the way. You may want to have guest speakers (leaders maybe) who are particularly skilled at these things. I could envision this being broken up into a couple of focused sessions and participants have work tasks they complete along the way and then bring back to the next session. Also it might be an added bonus to match them up with a volunteer leader coach/mentor who can provide ongoing support. it would be interesting to track the results and measure how many projects were complete, what they were, and the percent of participants that went on to advance in the organization. Sounds like a fun project - good luck!

Dave P

I have some experience with these types of lunch n' learns (LNL's).  I've used them for all sorts of things.  Most notably, the last time I held them at a previous company, it was on Microsoft Office and other software topics.  I had noticed over the time I was at that company that there were a lot of employees who were not able to do certain tasks in MS Word, Excel and PowerPoint.  It was simple things like using the Comments/Review feature and tracking changes in Word or how to create Pivot tables in Excel.  Adding videos to PowerPoint was another topic we covered at one point.  I also held another LNL on how to use SnagIt (everyone in the company had it installed on their computers, but many didn't know how to take a simple screen grab).

My point in commenting here is that I did this type of training and I was consistent with scheduling them and very successful with them too.  I held 2 LNL's per month on various topics and the people who attended were all very grateful to finally have some of these software topics that they knew should be easy to do, but never knew how to do them, explained to them in detail.  Suddenly many of these software Tips became part of their everyday work habit.

Good luck with your LNL's!

Dave