If you have an opportunity to attend a training class, make sure you get the most out of it. Here are 3 tips to help you do that.
In a previous article I talked about on-the-job development, which is how we learn most of what we know. But occasionally you might also attend a training class. Training classes can accelerate the acquisition of knowledge and skills (the practical application of knowledge). Training classes should be seen as an opportunity to put yourself in ‘learning’ mode away from other distractions.
The trainer is going to give you their best service if you can focus on what they are saying and if you fully participate. So in this ever busy world, when switching off from electronic communication is difficult, try to give any training class you attend your undivided attention to get the most out of it. Set expectations with the people around you that you will not be available for a few hours, a day or however long the class is. Stick to your commitment.
We can only take in so much information at any one time. Often in training classes you are bombarded with a huge amount of information. You will not retain it all just by attending. You may not even be able to figure out what’s directly useful to you in the moment you receive the information. So to get the best value from attending a class you should do three things:
Before you attend, plan what it is you want to learn from the class. Why are you attending? What do you expect to have learned by attending that you didn’t know before? What do you expect to be able to do after attending that you can’t do now? Think about this before you attend for two reasons. One - you will be more engaged if you’re looking for a specific result. Two - most trainers will ask you what you hope to get out of the class at the start of the class. You may as well be ready!
Fully engage with the class. Ask questions, participate in activities and be open to new ideas. Note down areas you can see instantly are relevant. Mark items that you’re not sure about yet. These will be things you want to come back to after the class and think about more to see how they may be useful to you. Don’t switch off to any topic, even if you think it’s not relevant to you. Listen to everything and decide later what will be helpful to you.
After the class, don’t just put the binder of material in a drawer and tick that topic off as ‘done’. Training classes typically provide you with ideas, methods, tools, and theory. You will need to use both what you retained during the class and what you’ve not yet learned, but were introduced to, to really develop. This means applying some effort to take what you’ve learned and make it applicable to yourself. Assign time over the weeks following a class to revisit the manual/notes etc. and build templates and action items to use on a daily basis. You won’t be able to do it all at once, so plan to revisit it once a week for a period of time so that you can get the most out of the training class and make it work for you in your current role.
Training classes can accelerate your learning and acquisition of skills, but the real development of skills and experience comes from on-the-job development over time.