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How ‘Expresso’ could you be?


I have been told (yes told) to run session for groups of 15 staff on subjects such as improving communication, workplace standards, respect at work policy and time management.  There has been no TNA as such, and the topics are based on the man at the top's perception of what needs to be improved. 

I am an in house trainer, and to date my remit has been purely management training.  I certainly don't mind training staff at all, but feel that 15 minute sessions are completely unrealistic, even if each topic was covered in 10 sessions each!

Before I dig my heels in and refuse to do this on the grounds of it being a waste of time for all concerned, I thought I would just check if it was just me being old fashioned, or if 15 minute sessions can work.  Can you actually make a positive change in a quarter of an hour?  I've known icebreakers to last longer! 

The 'I need at least half an hour' discussion is forming in my head, but your thoughts would be appreciated.

Many thanks, Nikki

9 Responses

  1. To do list

    If the 15 minutes is spent giving them 2 or 3 things to do and practice until the next time you meet them of course its a good idea…very good idea in fact!

    I would also create an on line community for them to post results of what they are trying out…this could aslo be used by them to suggest other training they need…

  2. fashum rashum…..I’ll try again.

    Hi Nikki

    Not so much bite-sized as "One Cal"! or even "tweet training"

    When I wrote the response above I actually wrote a long answer, but when I submitted it all the text got lost!

    So here is another try;

    Whilst I’d agree that 15 minutes seems far too short a time there may still be a way of acheiving a result.  Accepting that by the time you actually get 15 people all together and settled your fifteen minutes is now probably ten minutes why not try to use the 10 minutes to solely generate a motivation to find out more?  For example;

    Improving Internal Communication

    1. Do some research around the web and "good books" and generate a list of 10 simple things that everyone/anyone can do to improve internal communication.  Publish this list as a poll on your intranet, but don’t tell people.

    2. Have your 15 minute session with your 15 people.  Split them into 3 teams of 5 and get them to brainstorm, in 5 minutes, all the benefits (to staff, to managers, to shareholders, to customers) of improved internal communications. share their findings in one minute per team.

    Hand them out a "takeaway" with your 10 top tips and a link to the intranet page, telling them that they are now needed to vote on their "favourite" three tips AND submit one suggestion for the organisation

    3. After the closing date tweet or email to publicise the results and publish the findings on line….take any appropriate action with the outcomes of the poll and the suggestions.

    This should provide a very low distraction/downtime event that fulfills the man-at-the-top’s wants, explored new ways of learning within the organisation, generates in house best practice guides, raises your profile and saves your job!

    I hope this helps


    Rus Slater



  3. Many thanks so far!

    Your advice is appreciated, thanks!

    I wistfully sighed at the suggestion of using an intranet.  We don’t have one, and even if we did it couldn’t be used for the purposes you suggest as that staff (roughly 1000 of them) don’t have computer access. 

    Optional Tweeting was something I considered for those that wanted to carry on the process, but that would be something they would have to do in their own time.  There are obviously the privicy and ethical issues that go along with that, plus I’d have to uphold my side of the Tweeting in my own time too. 

    Incidentally, getting the delegates in on time shouldn’t be too much trouble (thoretically at least!) as I can use the internal intercom system. 

    I think a Steve/Rus approach will be the way forward.  Completely throw the training concept out of the window and facilitate a discussion that results in them contacting to change one thing.  I can communicate lists via a pinboard (not is a dull way so they notice it!) and do all I can to make sure the managers support them. 

    Any further thoughts would, as ever, be welcome.

    Kind reagrds, Nikki

  4. PS

    Rus, I’m so sorry your original text vanished, and thanks for taking the trouble to write it again!

  5. Posters

    Hi Niki

    I think what you are about to do is actually quite refreshing…good old fashioned training without the use of technology and a blank piece of paper from which to grow your ideas.

    Posters around the workplace to encourage discussions at teabreaks…incentives to encourage good practice ideas from the workforce. I think with 1000 staff you might need to nominate some leaders to take charge of certain areas, preferably not managers as this will empower the ordinary workers and make this a much freer place to learn rather than being a management incentive. I think a walkthrough and little chats during the week would keep the momentum going also, particularly if you place real value on anything no matter how small the workers are doing to improve things.

    I think you are quite lucky to be involved in such a project…it can’t be anything but successful!

    Good l;uck



  6. Do you have 5 flipcharts?
    An idea:
    Split the group into teams of 3.
    Brainstorm 5 areas that the ‘man at the top’ says need improvement. E.g. How can you possibly improve:
    improving communication
    workplace standards
    respect at work
    time management, etc
    2 minutes per flipchart.
    Cycle the groups round so each covers each area.

    Training? Possibly not. Raising awareness and identifying perceptions of the staff ‘needing’ training? Absolutely.

    In the short term it’ll give you a ton of information about perceived needs that you can use to present back to management about which areas need further development.

    I’ve just looked back and saw that you posted a question a while back about only being allowed an hour to train supervisors – is it the same organisation and what was the result of your actions then?

  7. Chunks


    My immediate reaction was like your own – what????? Short training sessions are becoming more and more popular, but I’ve never come across 15 minutes before. However, you could consider delivering a 1 hour session/topic in 15 minute chunks, for example:

    chunk 1 = introduction to topic (key concepts and benefits)

    chunk 2 = exercise to explore topic (go away and reflect)

    chunk 3 = how to apply topic at work

    chunk 4 = review and ‘coaching’

    I have used a similar approach before (but in fairness, each section was around an hour) – but at least this way you get to build knowledge and skills rather than just providing a quick skim over.

    I guess all you can do is try to make it work, and have a ‘plan B’ ready if it doesn’t.



  8. one skill per session

    Training 101? 

    How about concentrating on one skill at a time – for example – the importance of tone in talking to someone, five ways to get your email read, how to demonstrate respect (using your senses as well as common sense to identify ways in which people are different and therefore may need different approaches), three things a decently run meeting MUST have….

    I agree with the other suggestions about worksheets and handouts, setting people a task in between sessions and getting them to update with postcards on a notice board if you don’t have a decent intranet site, etc.

    If the boss is TELLING you to do this, are they also TELLING people to attend?  If this is the case, the more entertaining they are the better.  Have a look at

     for some ideas for some fast moving, very informative and VERY short presentations on a whole range of marketing issues and see if you can nick some ideas.

    Good luck!

    — Karen, fe3 consulting

  9. Thank you!

    My apologies for lack of response, I’ve been on holiday.

    This is the same organistion that asked for 1 hour sessions, and they certainly worked well by the time I had broken things down into tiny chunks and thinking really long term for the outcomes.  I based all the visuals around jigsaw puzzle pieces, so each topic built up the big picture.  It worked well for the delegated who liked rushing on ahead, and embedded the idea that there was a master plan. 

    There has been a change of ‘man at the top’ in the last week, so all information only correct at time of going to press! I am going to crack on with these sessions until I hear otherwise, and the rollout starts in 2 weeks. 

    A massive thank you for your support and enthusiasm for my task, I’ll keep you posted as to what happens!

    Kind regards,




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