How To Prepare For Your In-Service PD

So you’ve booked an in-service professional development day training. The big question is whether your team is ready to learn what you want them to learn.

Chances are, they are not.

A 2010 McKinsey & Company survey reviewed that approximately 75 percent of training programs fail to measurably improve business performance. A lack of preparation is one of the biggest culprits.

This blog helps you to prepare your team so they can get the best out of the training and implement their learning long after the event.

Why are staff unprepared for training?

I frequently turn up to deliver an in-service training and ask ,what are you wanting to get out of the training today and here are the top three reasons responses:-

  1. We were told to be here.

  2. It’s part of my professional development.

  3. I’m not sure.

Very rarely do staff attend because they’re trying to solve a specific problem. It’s very unusual if a team member has read the training descriptions and outcomes and planned out exactly what they hope to learn.

This causes concern, as learning is about fundamentally solving specific problems and it often means that staff feel uncertain and slightly anxious about what is expected of them.

It’s no wonder some staff lack motivation and focus at the start of in-service professional development days! For some they are asked to participate on a weekend day or in the evening after the centre closes. For others they are more engaged, but see it as a fun way to spend time with their colleagues and off the floor.

If you want your team to get the most out of your professional development days, you need to create an action plan.

How to create an action plan for In-Service Professional Development Days

A simple action plan can help you to maximise learning by ensuring that you are clear about the problem you want to solve and what you want your team to achieve as a result of participating in an in-service professional development training. A simple yet powerful tool to use is my one-page Training Planner.

Now if you’re thinking I don’t have a spare hour, think about how much money and time you are investing from your training budget for your team to participate. If you want to maximise your ROI this process should not be skipped.

Training Planner

Step 1. Identify The Purpose

It’s important for your team to know why they are participating in training. That’s pretty hard to explain if you can’t articulate this yourself. So, start by answering these three important questions:

  1. What are the Expected Outcomes?

  2. What is the Existing Performance?

  3. What are the Cause(s) for the Gap?

Below is an example of a completed Identify The Purpose Form – This was completed by a Director who was looking for training that would help her team become more engaged.

Now, it’s time to check in and review – do your team really need this training?

If the answer to this question is ‘Yes’ then now it’s time to Prime Your Team For Success.

Step 2. Prime Your Team For Success

At a minimum, your team should be able to answer these three simple questions:-

  1. What’s the professional development training about?

  2. How will this training help me to do my job?

  3. How can I apply what I’ve learned back to my job?

Next is to determine how you and your leadership team can make sure this happens. This typically looks like sharing information with the team so they can answer these three questions. You can do this be circulating an email, sharing the information at a staff meeting or promoting the training on a notice board.

The way to do this is by making sure the training facilitator provides information that can be shared amongst your team. For example, my clients will ask me to provide them with a training description and learning outcomes and possibly some ‘priming questions’ for the team to reflect on before the training event.

With my clients, I hold a 30 minute Priming Meeting to assist in planning the practical elements of the training, as well as answer any questions and address any barriers to learning the content.

Step 3. Identify Training Action

Now it’s time to help your team create some intentions while participating in the training.

These are typically very few.

  • Being fully present

  • Engaging fully with the content

  • Actively participating

  • Considering how they are going to apply their learning

  • Being in a growth mindset

  • Having pen and paper

Consider the role of the Leaders within the training. Are they equally participating or are they participating in their role as a leader. If you want them to feedback information about the training and future action, ideas or thoughts about how the content can be applied, make sure you invite them to do before the training and set a time to debrief. This way everyone knows what is expected of them and is clear about how to provide feedback.

Step 4: Identify Follow-up Action

So now your team have participated in the Professional Development Training, they had a great time, enjoyed participating and taking on the new learning. It’s time to consider how they are going to specifically implement their learning. Then, decide who in your leadership team will ensure this happens. Here are a few examples:

  • At a team meeting ask your team how they applied what they learnt.

  • During one on one meetings with your team, ask them how they are using their new skills.

  • Get your Team Leaders to work with their teams to explore how they are applying their knowledge and what additional support or guidance they need.

  • Send out a staff survey to identify which skills they’ve tried and what the barriers are in implementing them.

Finally, determine what support the Room Leaders & Educational Leaders need from the Training Facilitator.

With my clients I typically hold a one hour Implementation Follow-Up session one month after the workshop to check-in and see what help they need to sustain their progress.

“The rubber hits the road after the training facilitator has delivered the training. How are you following up with your team to make sure they are implementing their learning?”

Sarah Moore

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