THE BLOG

3 Steps to Curating Corporate Training

04/28/2015 02:20 pm ET | Updated Jun 28, 2015

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Some time ago, I attended the annual general meeting of a local museum where I have volunteered. Prior to enjoying a delightful array of snacks and friendly conversation, there was food for thought in the form of a keynote reaching well beyond the realm of art collecting and deep into the world of business. After further reflection, I observed that a good employee training program, like a good art collection, is an aggregate of concepts and ideas that create a more well-rounded, informed and exciting view of the world and how we in our jobs interact with it.

At our company, we provide open training sessions on Tuesdays. These sessions cover information that our team members need to have in order to do their jobs more effectively. Trainings also include industry-focused sessions that run the gamut of voice-over performance, auditioning talent and casting voice projects. Across the board, I've found it to be true that the more your people know, the more confident they are. Their expressed knowledge translates to greater credibility with your customers and makes it easier to serve them.

One of the best ways to support your team while keeping things interesting is to give them a variety of trainings that are Required, Desired and Inspired. How do you know which heading a training falls under? Follow this helpful guide:

1. Required

Going back to the art world, many people think they are collectors, but they aren't. They get a little bit of this and a little bit of that, but are not truly forming a collection. There is nothing wrong with being an eclectic collector, but there is something to putting together themes. Collecting shouldn't be incidental. It should be thoughtful. An art collector of this sort has specific reasons for purchasing specific pieces and for where they are placed.

Similarly, designing your core curriculum for company-wide training necessitates that you identify learnings that are absolutely fundamental to working at your company. These trainings should revolve around the systems you use, the processes you employ and the people you work with. Everyone learns differently, but where systems and processes are concerned, provide opportunities for practical application, whether it's creating a customer account in your CRM or how to transfer a phone call to a colleague in the office.

Training for new employees should be set in stone so that everyone gets the same information while they are on-boarding. Having the same person deliver a particular training session each and every time is helpful as that person will quickly be perceived as the go-to expert for anything around the training topic, and over time will develop a sense for how to best present the material.

2. Desired

From time to time, people will suggest topics for training that, while interesting and worthy topics, may not be part of your core curriculum. This is a good opportunity to see where you can begin to fill in the gaps. Dig a little deeper to understand why that area of training appeals to them. Maybe there was a situation they experienced on the job where they felt ill-equipped to answer a customer. Perhaps something new has arrived on the horizon and it makes sense to address a given topic, that while not core to what you do, relates to the work at hand in some capacity.

Work, ideally, should involve making choices, not guesses. Thousands of individual decisions are made in your company each day, and the better equipped your staff is to think for themselves and be creative within the boundaries of your brand, the better. Being able to make good choices means having all the information you can at your disposal.

Make it easy for people to make suggestions or share ideas for the sort of training they would like to have. You can do this through an internal messaging system or go low-tech and collect ideas anonymously in an idea jar conveniently located in the office kitchen.

3. Inspired

Like art, work needs to challenge us. Just as a museum curator showcases installations of significance to them, you should incorporate trainings that reflect not only what you think people want to learn about, but also what they ought to be introduced to. One of the joys of learning is being able to see something from a different perspective.

Think about staff who have been with you for some time. They've gone through basic training and likely already have dozens of subsequent training sessions to their credit if you follow a regular training program. That said, people often think they are experts in a given area or have mastered certain skills. What if you could show them something about which they already are knowledgeable, but in a different light? People often have difficulty articulating what it is that they'd like to learn about. Each training should have context. You can even group trainings that relate to each other and reference material from past topics to show how everything is connected and has meaning.

Look for inspiration in different places. If you know how to connect the dots and draw parallels between ideas or concepts, finding ways to spin pre-existing training materials will become obvious to you. By doing so, you are able to draw upon the concept of create once, leverage many. You can also learn a lot by visiting other companies to see how they run their trainings. A short conversation with another trainer may yield a few great ideas that you can implement in your own training schedule.

Starting Your Training Collection

When curating a curriculum for training in your company, don't just include sessions that you think someone would like to learn about. Include topics that you think they should see that add value.

This goes back to how a curator finds pieces of art. Not everything in a collection is there because it is popular or because the individual work is easy to understand. Art speaks to us in many ways, and sometimes the work that we discover by way of strategic placement of a purposeful curator can impact our lives forever.

To plan amazing training sessions that yield significant impact, you will need to understand the work your teams are doing in theory and in practice, and create an appropriate array of courses covering what is required, desired and inspired. Gaining a better appreciation for the creative process and how it applies to the work being done will help you curate trainings that inspire your team to deliver superior performances.