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Seb Anthony

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Ideal length of management training programmes?



We currently offer day long management workshops, part of an overall programme that managers dip in and out of. A colleague has proposed that we instead offer a 3-5 days long combined workshop as these are more effective. Aside from the issue of whether a workshop is the most effective means of learning :-), does anyone know of any research that says whether it is more effective for people to take several days out or get their learning in shorter bursts?

Either way we would need to check how receptive the business is to this, was just wondering about this point in particular.


4 Responses

  1. Interesting question

    From a personal point of view, I prefer programs that build knowledge in the ‘training room’ & then gives the learner an opportunity to go away & apply what they have learnt, bring back the learning to the group, discuss it and learn some more.

    So many delegates dread the ‘role play’ & learn so much more from real world experience.

    Another downside for the days-in-a-row workshop program is the risk of information overload and for some it is harder for learners to retain all the changes they are going to make.

    Also, as the learner’s line manager is so crucial in the embedding of learning, it seems a shame to leave them out of the process until the end of a 3 or 5 day program.

    So for me, my preference is having a group learning together over time, in the workshop & in the ‘real world’.

    Great question, I look forward to hearing the views of everyone else.


  2. an informed guess….

    this is based solely on intuition rather than research but I’d suspect that a large element will depend on the learning style preference of the learner and the style of the training provided.  3 to 5 days of intellectual input with little or no practical element will be pretty ineffectual for most pragmatists, whereas Action Learning sets may be less effective for theorists.

    Notwithstanding this your biggest challenge will be the acceptability to the senior management of the organisation; few senior managers appreciate ‘losing’ their people for two thirds of a week to a whole week, whereas bite sized interventions seem to have less loss-of-productivity impact on the business.

    I hope this helps even if it isn’t research based.



  3. Length of programmes

     I think it is hard to evaluate the best length for a course in isolation. The trend in recent years have been towards bite size chunks rather than longer programmes, this is partly down to the difficulty in people being away from their job for long periods of time. There has also been a move towards more blended solutions where you mix different learning approaches together as part of a learning recipe. The course component is often shorter and more modular as a consequence.

    The other factors include the nature of the topic and what is being learnt. Imagine learning all the microsoft products back to back in one long programme. By the end you may have forgotten a lot about the first package covered. Better by far to learn one bit, practice and consolidate in the workplace, and then do the next bit.

    Learning to fly a plane, however, probably requires a long and intensive programme to get up to the required level before you are let loose.

    Whilst there is some research in this general area, I have not seen anything persuasive that gives a definitive steer for all situations.



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