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The Secret to ‘Stickier’ Workshops

Mentoring Programs Don’t Run Themselves

The Secret to ‘Stickier’ Workshops

Even the perfect workshop is still just a one-time event.
Improved knowledge retention is just a mentor away.

Let’s face it: training and development departments have a lot of responsibilities. And some days those responsibilities feel like a balancing act. How can we make sure that employees are getting the proper information and education to make them productive and meaningful contributors to company success?

A go-to way to keep employees engaged has been introducing training workshops, scattered throughout the year. While in many contexts training workshops can be a very common form of training, relying on workshops as the only form of training without resources to reinforce what was discussed, may result in a critical gap in your learning model.

1. Workshops are an investment. When trying to manage your bottom line, workshops can often require a large investment of resources (budget, time, etc.) so you want to make sure that you are getting the most out of each one. Moreover, because workshops often rely on outside speakers, you want to make sure you have an alternative training method for when something does not happen as planned (i.e. presenter has to reschedule, or a member of the team cannot attend).

2. Workshops don’t always meet the needs of the employees. Anyone with a large company knows that every employee is different from the next. We live in a global, intercultural world, and that means employees are bringing their individual differences and varying skill levels to the table. Workshops offer a blanket solution to training, which is not always the best for all employees. Meaning that workshops are not always conducive to the wide range of learning styles, tailored to individual skill sets, or apprehensions.

3. Workshops are often a short-term solution, and there is no guarantee for accountability. Can you recall a single PowerPoint slide that you saw in the past 30 days? I teach college, and I can’t remember the slides I showed my students this afternoon. That’s because at a certain point, we stop retaining information. In 45-minute workshop you are guaranteed an active audience for 15 minutes. Which means that 30 minutes of that high price workshop were met with glazed over eyes, and thoughts of what was for dinner that night. In this way, workshops don’t always stick with employees. Sure, maybe you have the star employee who remembers everything word for word, and that’s great – but the average employee does not. And finally, when the workshop leader leaves, there is limited accountability (in the next section we discuss how to solve for this!) Meaning that employees who were taught a skill in under an hour, won’t have the person who taught them there to check in and make sure those skills are sticking.

SOLUTION: Set your employees up with mentors.

1. Mentors are cost-effective. By creating a culture of mentorship in your company, mentors can help provide training in a more cost-effective way. If you do not have a mentorship program in place (don’t worry, eMentorConnect will come to your rescue), there will some initial overhead, however, in the long term, the “one-on-one” nature of mentorship means that employees will always have a helpful resource.

2. Mentors can help in the areas employees need to develop. Talk about a return on an investment! Because mentors work closely with individual employees, they can help each employee assess and develop the areas they need to work on most without making them feel isolated or judged. For example, a mentor might be the person who notices that a mentee is nervous for an upcoming pitch for a client, and shares with them their tips and tricks to shake nerves. Mentorship means that you can hire people based on their strengths, and have confidence that your stellar mentorship program will find the right person to work with them in the areas they need to develop. People who have been with the company for a while will be able to share best practices, tips, and answer questions, in a way that is meaningful to each employee.

3. Finally, mentors hold you accountable. The best mentors are the one that call you out, and challenge you to be the best version of yourself. And the truth is, companies that care about their employees, and really invest in them as individuals are the ones that stand to gain the most.

When you invest in workshops for your employees, make sure that learning doesn’t stop when the workshop ends by creating a system where employees are paired with a mentor that will help them grow and development as individuals. Mentor programs will make your workshop stickier, with participants retaining far more information than from a one-time delivery.  Workshops can be great when used sparingly, but if you really want to make sure every single employee is properly trained, a mentor is your best bet.

Lane Schwager