Learning: It's Personal

In: BlogDate: Feb 14, 2011By: Henry Stewart

What makes a great training course? We’ve done a lot of research on this, and worked with some great trainers to find the answer.

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We’ve found that however strong the performance skills of the trainer, it is about how relevant the student finds it to them. A great course is one where the learner says, “it felt personalised to my needs and I could see exactly how I could apply it in my work.”

As a trainer, are you more focused on the course objectives that you enter the training room with, or the personal needs of the specific individuals in that room?

Here are 3 tips on how to make your training sessions learner-focused:

  1. Introductions are vital. Establish rapport at the beginning. Find out how they are, what work they do, how they will use the software in their job, what they like and dislike about the software and what their fears are for the day. Will this take too long? This list comes from one of our trainers, Mike Barron, who emphasises the importance of spending time on the introduction. I popped into his class this week and talked to his students who said it was the best course they’d ever been on. “Not a moment has been wasted. He’s made it absolutely relevant to our work.”
  2. Personalise it. Once you know what work they do and how they expect to use the software, you can target questions at them. “How could a Table of Contents be useful in the Board reports you create, Ashad?”, “”Where could fixing formula through these absolute cell references be used in your stock reports, Elaine?”.
  3. Be flexible. Your aim is to make your learners more effective in their job, not to cover the agenda. Be prepared to drop subjects. Be prepared to cover functions not on the outline. (But keep to the structure: Learn, review, test – even if you are creating on the fly.)

Double the Benefits of Your Training

A learner-focused course brings twice the benefits of a generic course. I know that from the post-course analysis we do, following up with learners three months after their course. We ask them to estimate how much time they have gained from increased productivity and we ask about how the course was for them.

The average estimated saving for those who disagreed with the statement “the course was learner-focused, responding to my individual needs” was 18 minutes per day. For those who agreed, the average saving came out at 26 minutes and for those who strongly agreed it was 37 minutes.

The result was similar for the statement “I got the chance to discuss with the trainer the specific things I needed the software to do in my work”. Those who disagreed estimated their saving at 15 minutes. The average for those who agreed came out at 26 minutes and for those who strongly agreed it was 34 minutes.

Do you want to double the benefits that your learners get from your training? Then make each course a personalised learner-focused experience.

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Henry Stewart, Founder and Chief Happiness Officer

Henry is founder and Chief Happiness Officer of Happy Ltd, originally set up as Happy Computers in 1987. Inspired by Ricardo Semler’s book Maverick, he has built a company which has won multiple awards for some of the best customer service in the country and being one of the UK’s best places to work.

Henry was listed in the Guru Radar of the Thinkers 50 list of the most influential management thinkers in the world. "He is one of the thinkers who we believe will shape the future of business," explained list compiler Stuart Crainer.

His first book, Relax, was published in 2009. His second book, the Happy Manifesto, was published in 2013 and was short-listed for Business Book of the Year.

You can find Henry on LinkedIn and follow @happyhenry on Twitter.

More by Henry

Want to learn more?

Happy is a leading provider of train the trainer courses including TPMA certification (Trainer Performance, Monitoring and Assessment). We offer a range of train the trainer courses to suit all levels, from those who have never trained anyone before and want to learn where to start, to experienced trainers who want to add pizzazz to their sessions.