“Corporate training expenditures are shrinking!” touts Training Magazine in their December 2019 issue. The magazine has been reporting on the corporate training industry for 38 years now. While the study focuses specifically on the U.S. market, the theme is familiar to individuals and organizations worldwide. How can we do more with less? How can we tighten our belts? Sharpen our pencils? Reduce? Reuse? Recycle? We hope these 10 Tips for Tight Training Budgets will help.
Trainers, like teachers, have always been a creative bunch, good at stretching a dollar and developing interesting learning experiences on the fly. As a resource for teachers and trainers, we have done the same. We are constantly on the lookout for ways trainers can enhance their effectiveness without breaking their budget. We hope these “10 treats” will sweeten your year.
1 Don’t Reinvent the Wheel – rather than inventing new courses from scratch, draw on a library of training courses and customize them to your needs. Add the details specific to your organization or group. Draw on a plethora of games and exercises to create shared experiences for your group, then customize your debrief, drawing out learning points pertinent to your material and goals.
2 Simplify Administrative Tasks – software automates so many administrative training tasks but there are still a handful that can be eliminated. For example, instead of printing out name cards, try Reusable Name Tents that give participants the leeway to write in the name they wish to be called. And, rather than mailing out course completion certificates at the end of a training event, distribute them in DocU-Sleeves that both protect the certificates and allow recipients to bring them home safely. If you do choose to mail out certificates, the DocU-Sleeves tuck easily into standard envelopes for a convenient, light-weight mailing.
3 Embrace Blended Learning – I’m all in favor of live training for the development of interpersonal skills, emotional intelligence, leadership and team building. However, online tools are a wonderfully cost effective and important way to develop skills beyond the classroom. They can introduce and/or reinforce classroom time, or help develop skills that might not require as much face-to-face time.
4 Peer-to-Peer Coaching – coaching is one of the most economical ways to improve employee performance because it can be done right “at home.” However, doing it well requires, well, coaching. Thankfully, a host of resources are available to enhance your organization’s coaching skills, including Coaching Questions cards and books.
5 Online training and videos to supplement – if a picture is worth a 1000 words, how many words are videos worth? Supplement classroom training with videos or movie excerpts. Watch video clips during training, then dissect them and draw out key learning points. Or, draw from the 100s of professionally made videos on the most popular training topics. Knowledge City is a great resource while YouTube, as you likely know, can be hit or miss. In any case, videos can help introduce important training topics, act as stand-alone as cost-effective online training, or follow-up a live training event.
Make sure the hours spent in training yield learning that isn’t easily forgotten. Employ follow-up techniques and memory reinforcement tricks like these:
6 Use tools to enhance memory – material becomes more memorable when teachers and trainers utilize games or conduct “closer exercises” that require learners to recall and write down key learning points. Tools like What? So What? Now What?, Start-Stop-Continue-Change notes, Memory Blocks and Reminder Hands can really help make learning stick and act as reminders when learners are back at the office.
7 Be memorable – training events that are most easily remembered are usually conducted by trainers who make themselves memorable. They do this by telling stories, ramping up participation, creating an unusually supportive environment, and embedding emotionally rich experiences into the curriculum. Silver Series Thumballs are worth a mention here as they’re playful and can trigger deeper, more meaningful conversations than session attendees might anticipate.
8 Play games – repetition and recall games help create lasting memories, as can team games and simulations. Depending on your training topic, find the perfect game to suit your needs. Alternatively, customize a game template, like a Jeopardy-style game, and incorporate all the most post important learning points in your area of expertise.
9 Reuse materials – your most favorite training tools, whether that be a teambuilding game, conversation starter Thumball, or Fidget Toy, can be used time and again. Any investment you make now will retain its value for years to come.
10 Inexpensive doesn’t mean cheap – when purchasing off-the-shelf training tools, you’ll find that prices typically bundle together cost of materials and intellectual property rights. Typically, training tools include facilitation guides with tips and best practices, thereby increasing their value (and cost). Whether you purchase fidget toys, card decks, balls, games, or books, you should insist on quality products that will let you shine.
Your favorite training tools may not be free, but they can help you maximize the impact of your training budget.