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Tailored Training – develop the skills of your internal trainers

We’re probably familiar with the concept of tailored or bespoke training. We even talk (often disparagingly) about ‘off-the-shelf’ training. But the tailoring analogy is even more useful when we begin to tease it apart.

A good tailor knows that having the material is one thing. Converting it into a beautiful article of clothing is another thing.  In the same way, we should never underestimate the skill involved in communicating messages and transmitting learning. Only a dummy does that!

For those of you who have ever had to give a presentation of deliver training, you will probably start by pulling together the content, the message, the detail, and the information. You’ll also consider the sequence or structure; how each bit of information should fit together to make sense: in tailoring terms, the ‘pattern’. But having the material and the pattern doesn’t make a pair of trousers any more than having some eggs and a recipe book makes a souffle. The skill lies in the execution, the stitching, the mixing, and the finesse.

In reality, anyone planning on running a programme on Motivation will probably visit the same material store for content: maybe a hem of Herzberg with a pocket of Maslow, and a seam of Motivational Drivers. There aren’t so many new ideas out there to distinguish the content. What sets the message apart is how it is woven together, how it is constructed, how it fits and what it feels like to receive it.

It’s no use making a beautiful looking pair of trousers if they pinch in the crotch. It’s no use creating a beautiful new garment if no-one knows how to wear it.

That’s why time spent on developing the communication and engagement skills of your trainers is vital. They need to understand how people learn, and:

  1. how they receive and interpret information

  2. what make them tick

  3. what they are interested in

  4. what they do when they are disinterested

  5. what they are afraid of

  6. what they need and want

Having clarity about these things isn’t always easy to get in advance, but skilled presenters and trainers know how to pick up the signals quickly and respond appropriately. They also know that creating the right learning environment is critical to how well any learning lands.

We all communicate, all the time, and we probably feel we’re okay at it most of the time. That’s why we may have devalued the skills involved in training or presenting. But I safely predict that we’ve all had to endure mind-numbing presentations or training sessions where the communicator lacked these vital skills. You simply can’t take them for granted.

In these times of austerity where more and more companies are trying to cut their cloth to suit their purse, focus is shifting to using internal staff to deliver training. What’s often missing is the appreciation that these internal trainers need investing in. Giving them the needle and the material won’t be enough: without the requisite skills they may not be able to create a compelling experience where people feel they can participate, engage, be stimulated and develop as a result.

Failure to ensure that the message, the learning and the experience is memorable and impactful is wasteful. It’s not saving money at all, and the true cost will be felt across the business as it all begins to unravel like a loose thread.

Stop tinkering with training, learn to tailor it, and make sure you have skilled people who know how to cut the cloth appropriately.

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