Training-Pleasant Surprise or Nightmare?

Sections of this topic

    Employees sometimes spend several hours each year in training classes. Many times, these classes get the same reception as the performance review. The two have some similarities. Both are often dreaded experiences that can turn into a pleasant surprise or a nightmare. Most likely each of you can relate to both experiences for both items.

    For training, there are a number of things that happen that lead to a negative experience. Have any of the following happened to you during a training session?

    • The class started late or ran over the time allotted.
    • The instructor or facilitator spent hours talking to you in a monotone voice with every word repeated on a PowerPoint slide behind them with lights dimmed in the room.
    • The instructor seemed bothered by the interruption of questions about the topic.
    • The instructor wasn’t prepared for class requiring you to sit in silence for several minutes.
    • The instructor made a consistent point of ensuring that the participants knew their credentials and expertise. Any time someone tried to share an experience with the topic, they were cut off only to have to listen to the instructor tell them how to handle it their way.

    There are also several things that lead to positive learning experiences for adult learners.

    • An environment where practice and exploration are encouraged and allowed.
    • A facilitator who uses the experiences of the participants to connect the material.
    • A facilitator who has prepared the material, the environment, and the delivery to work together to maximize learning.
    • A delivery of material that requires action, discussion, and participation.
    • A facilitator who is positive about the material and your ability to learn and practice it.
    • Content, handouts, and materials that are immediately useful to you in your current role.
    • PowerPoint is only used as a visual tool to enhance the material.

    One of the key differences between the pleasant surprise and the nightmare of training falls in learner versus facilitator control. For those of us responsible for employee learning, we often spend the majority of the program development time focused on the objectives that we need the employees to learn. We build agendas and timelines then focus on how to get all the information out within our timeframe. When the focus is on getting information out, how can we focus on the learner taking the information in and actually learning?

    Stay tuned for more on this topic.

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    Sheri Mazurek is a training and human resource professional with over 16 years of management experience, and is skilled in all areas of employee management and human resource functions, with a specialty in learning and development. She is available to help you with your Human Resources and Training needs on a contract basis. For more information send an email to or visit Follow me on Twitter @Sherimaz.