There are many ways to provide continuing education for your employees, sharpen their skills, and keep them immersed in new industry developments. But there’s one method that’s used year after year, all across the country, in almost every industry: workshops.
Industry publications, associations, and experts hold thousands of them. In fact, you could send your team to a different conference every week if you wanted to.
So, how do you choose the one that’s right for your company? Which training or workshop is right for your team?
work·shop (wûrk′ shôp′) n.
2) An educational seminar or series of meetings emphasizing interaction and exchange of information among a usually small number of participants
First, let’s start by defining what a workshop does. A worthwhile workshop will improve your employees’ skills, clarify their understanding of their jobs, and inspire them to do better work. Here are just a few benefits:
- Opportunities to network
- Innovative ideas on navigating your industry
- Exposure to best practices and new trends
If you choose the right workshop, the benefits to your team will greatly outweigh the costs of attendees’ time and company resources. How? Attendees will share knowledge with other employees and create a space for innovation, efficiency, and smarter business practices in your office. First, though, you have to choose the workshop that’s right for your company — and right for your employees, too.
Making the Right Choice
How do companies begin their search for the perfect workshop? First of all, there are many different “levels” of workshops. There are cheaper beginner workshops, as well as larger industry workshops, usually held by trade publications. These are great networking venues and excellent places to learn trends, but they don’t always give deep, immersive learning opportunities.
On the other hand, workshops offered by associations or industry experts usually take an intense, focused approach to a specific topic. And if a workshop is small — 50 people or less — you’ll know that your employees will come home with a deeper, more nuanced grasp of the subject. Here are a few more questions to ask before committing to a workshop:
- Who’s teaching it? Are the instructors still active in your field? Or will your team be learning things that were true 10 years ago?
- How many people will be there? It’s tough to learn in a crowded conference room. If you’re looking for your employees to gain new skills or insights, choose a workshop for a smaller group.
- When and where is it? Is it in a city that’s exciting for your employees? Will they have peers to connect with and learn from?
- What will you be learning? Does the subject apply to your employees’ daily work? Does it translate to client retention, new business, or better billings? Is it valuable to your company?
Spreading the News
Workshops are a great way to get inspired. They serve as valuable rewards for an employee really busting a hump. They can also be used as incentives to get an employee fired up again when he needs a boost — we all like to work toward a reward.
But workshops are only as helpful as the people who take them — and whether or not your employees take those lessons back to the office. Here are a few ways you can help your team retain training elements from workshops and spread that wealth to other employees:
- Share the knowledge. It’s always smart to hold a lunch-and-learn so attendees can share the benefits with the team. Have workshop attendees prepare a presentation for the entire staff. Let them teach their peers new ways to work more efficiently.
- Ask for an action plan. Have your attendees brainstorm two or three ways to change the daily workflow of your company for the better.
- Create goals. Identify some key ways that your employees can improve based on the workshop. Then, follow up by making that part of their performance reviews later.
Workshops can be an exponential investment: You’ll pay once, but you’ll make that money back in motivation, efficiency, and fresh ideas. That’s why investing in the right workshop for your employees is key — and so is investing time in sharing and realizing these new lessons effectively.
Be open to integrating new, innovative concepts into your workplace. That way, you won’t just be advancing a few chosen employees’ careers. You’ll be investing in a smarter, more efficient business, too — right now, and in the future.
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