One of the most important situations for giving – and getting – feedback about performance is before and after a training or coaching programme. As a manager, your involvement in supporting the learner in applying their new knowledge and skills is a major variable in whether or not learning sticks – or just slips away. As a participant, you need to make sure you get feedback on your progress. In Part I of two on this topic, here are my top tips for both managers and participants, prior to the training.
Giving feedback before their training
Welcome to your job. This is where you come in. In Learning & Development (L&D) jargon, it’s called ‘learning transfer’ – and it’s all too often overlooked in training design. Heaps of time and effort goes into selecting the training provider, designing the programme, tweaking the programme a bit more, and getting people into the training venue. The vital, yet often missing link is your role in helping your employer get a good return on their investment.
1. Discuss the person’s forthcoming training in the context of the wider business – how will they be able to demonstrate value?
2. Jointly identify behaviours that can be expected to emerge or develop further as a result of the training.
3. Relate the discussion to the individual’s last appraisal or career conversation, giving clear feedback on where they are now.
4. Discuss how you can support them during and after the course – get their feedback on expectations.
5. Agree how their workload is going to be handled – and by whom – whilst they’re participating in the programme. Ensure there’s a handover between the participant and those who’ll be doing their work.
Getting feedback before your training
So you’re going on a training programme – lucky you. If you’re smart you won’t be viewing this as an unwelcome interruption in your ‘crazy busy’ schedule – or as a holiday. Although a holiday can serve up some handy parallels…would you go to a hot/cold climate without the right clothes? Would you finally read that guidebook on the flight home? Of course not. So don’t leave your forthcoming training to chance: improve your likelihood of success by preparing ahead.
1. Take a good look at the programme’s objectives and relate them to your job role. How will the programme help? Which elements get you most excited and which do you have some questions or concerns about?
2. Get feedback on your current performance. Good for you if this is happening regularly anyway – if that’s so, then focus on feedback that helps you benchmark ‘before’. If you haven’t had any feedback for ages, now’s the time to ask your manager(s) for some clear and actionable feedback, ‘because I want to ensure we all get the most out of this training.’
3. Assess your levels of confidence in applying new learning – how can you learn from previous experience and be more confident this time?
4. Assess your level of commitment to do applying what you’ll learn. How do you want to be held accountable?
5. Longer and more in-depth programmes often include a 360-degree feedback process. If yours doesn’t, particularly if you’re a manager, get feedback from your team members in the context of the forthcoming training.
Watch out for the post on the role of feedback in making learning stick post-training.
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