Lead, Learn, Change: My Key Takeaways from Leading Training Sessions
Updated: Jan 13
A crucial piece of change management is training, one of Harbinger’s areas of expertise. When I initially began my career here, I held a dual role between internal finance and consulting where one of my first jobs involved training.
Today I lead training on Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems. Prior to this, I had experience leading informal training sessions where I’ve learned a few crucial lessons to delivering an effective formal training class. Delivering training in formal situations requires a significant amount of planning, knowledge, and communication skills. While I am by no means a master at any of these skills, I’ve gained a lot of newfound knowledge that has allowed me to greatly improve the quality of my in-person training sessions.
Lesson 1: Be over prepared
The first lesson I learned was not only to be prepared, but over-prepared. Being over-prepared allows you to focus your attention on training, instead of being distracted by preventable issues like insufficient training data or concerns with user rights (Access to relevant transactions) in the training environment. Whatever amount you think you need to prepare, triple it! Not only is preparation critical to conducting a great session, it helps you, the trainer, to feel more confident and comfortable, and will be a catalyst for better engagement and retention. Trainees can also sniff out an unprepared trainer, undermining their ability to transfer knowledge, and limiting the effectiveness of training.
Lesson 2: Understand your audience
The second most important lesson I’ve learned through training numerous different groups and audiences of different roles and regions, is that you truly need to understand the audience. At the most basic level, you need to understand the roles and responsibilities of the audience inside their organization. Training is never fun when you’re learning about items you’ll never encounter in your day-to-day role, nor do end-users want to hear details about the upstream or downstream processes that don’t have an immediate affect on their tasks. Keeping training accurate and focused will make your training sessions more effective and efficient.
It’s also important to understand who your trainees are on a more personal level. Having trained across continents, it’s pivotal to be aware of cultural differences. For example, I was training in a Central American country where hugs and handshakes are the norm and go a long way to making the class feel welcome and trusted in the classroom. Even smaller regional differences like the time at which business begins in the morning differs around the United States and can be an important factor when planning and scheduling a training class. Scheduling a training session too early or too late can negatively affect the perceptions of the trainees prior to even beginning training.
Lesson 3: Build a relationship with the trainees
One of the most important and unfortunately difficult parts of being a third party trainer is relating to the trainees during training. Trainees don’t want a robot teaching them how to use a new system, but rather someone who can sympathize, and understand the pains and issues they are facing with their new technology. Being able to relate to them ensures that trainees feel their voice is heard and allows the trainer to develop a more meaningful relationship.
The responsibility of training doesn’t just fall on the trainer, but also the trainees. Included below are my top three tips for trainees:
By participating, trainees will not only help themselves retain knowledge but will also help their classmates to do so as well. Best of all, participation empowers the trainees to steer the topic of conversation and learning towards what they are looking for.
Most training sessions don’t have the luxury of happening the day before go-live. This makes it critical for trainees to practice what they’ve learned in training as much as possible to help prepare for the big day. Did you know? On average it takes about two months for new habits to form, so the sooner the better.
3. Turn your email and Instant Messaging (IM) off during training.
Email and IM are the two most distracting things for a trainee, and can ultimately disrupt the flow of the class. To ensure trainees are making the most out of the training sessions, I always recommend shutting these off completely.
The past two years of training have been challenging, yet significantly rewarding. The points mentioned above aren’t an exhaustive list of what I’ve learned in the past couple years, as that could fill a book, but they’re a couple of the most important tips and tricks I’ve picked up.
We all know that change is hard, especially when you must learn a new process or system like an ERP, as part of your role. I’m grateful to be able to provide the support required as a Lead Trainer to make this transition as easy as possible and I hope that the tips provided today will help others on the same journey.
Sr. Financial Analyst / Consultant Toronto