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Trainer’s tip: Making leadership training practical


Garry Platt and Tim Drewitt share their experience and expertise.

Photo of Garry PlattGarry Platt advises:

I would suggest that the process of transfer and transposition of learning on the course into action in the workplace might be part of your programme design and this will contribute towards contextualising and making the material practical.

Get candidates to go through a PDCA model as part of the middle and final phases of the event:

At the planning phase you might get the individuals to develop perfectly formed outcomes and best case scenarios, and develop clear objectives to frame and define what these will really look like. You could follow this up with some form of Force Field Analysis, getting them to identify where the help and hindrances will come from.

An action plan which will be robustly supported by line management back in the workplace will be absolutely essential to secure success for this project so you could think beyond the classroom and consider how you might integrate the efforts and interests of those line managers.

Banal as it may sound ‘if you don’t measure it they don’t do it’ has more than an ounce of truth and it might be worth developing some form of ‘action learning sets’ which will act as spurs to progress in the workplace and also ensure that key performance indicators are agreed and that the candidates are called on to report back to senior management on the progress towards these.

Bluntly get the buggers tied down to specific and measurable outcomes, if they can’t come up with any it might be that you’ve done something wrong or the recruitment or selection of staff is up the shoot.

If the training you’re delivering is not coming across as practical and relevant it might be because the ‘comprehensive TNA ~ at an organisational level’ is still too broad. Perhaps you haven’t bored down into how these organisational challenges relate to their individual specific needs and challenges. That depth of analysis is essential to understand how strategic demands relate to their operational needs and then the training can be designed around these accordingly.

I almost forgot, there's some excellent free material here on how to set up and run action learning sets which you should easily be able to adapt and use:

Notes on starting an action learning set

Transformational change programme – Action learning sets

Photo of Tim DrewittTim Drewitt adds:

Having just spent three years implementing leadership development programmes across Europe, the main issue I encountered was not so much the participants not having an action plan of how they would put the learning into practice afterwards, but the fact that they quickly forgot all about their action plan once they were back at their offices.

So I implemented an online action planning tool, that first of all captured their business-orientated goals for coming on the programme; secondly, linked each of these goals to an aspect of the programme or an internal competency, which served as a useful reference point.

The facilitators could review the goals online before the workshop and provide feedback through the tool itself.

After the workshop, every two weeks for a period of three months, the tool prompted each person to provide an update on their progress, using a quick and simple five question survey. The facilitators were tasked with providing at least one piece of feedback for every update.

At the end of the three months, we concluded with a programme close webinar, during which the participants could refer to their online action plan and share what they had implemented during the time since the workshop.

The tool also allowed the central reporting of activity, so the managers and programme sponsors could see first-hand what action was happening back in the workplace. Powerful stuff.

A minority didn't like the process, but even if they didn't always post all of the requested updates, most were able to keep on track with their plans and realise personal successes linked to their business goals.

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Making leadership training practical

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