Rolling out a training initiative can be challenging. Whether your purpose is to develop specific competencies within your workforce or to support a full culture transformation, you invest significant time and resources into determining the training that you need, gaining buy-in and implementing the training, so you want it to be successful. When undertaking training initiatives, many organizations overlook an excellent resource that is available to them: their own leaders.
Involving leaders in training initiatives has many advantages — if you do it well. Here’s why you should consider involving your organization’s leaders in company training initiatives, how to do it successfully and the impact you can expect to see.
Why Involve Leaders as Teachers
There are several practical reasons to have leaders deliver or co-deliver training, including convenience and cost savings. If an on-site leader can deliver your training content, it saves the cost of sending a trainer to each office or, worse, sending all of your staff to a central location. In the case of hourly staff with variable schedules, like in the service industry, it also means you can schedule the training more easily around the times that you can bring them all together.
More importantly, having your own leaders deliver training improves their engagement with the initiative and demonstrates their support for it. Many mid-level leaders, especially those who are newer to leadership roles, underestimate their role in training and culture change initiatives. When you ask them to teach the content, you empower them to be a part of the success story and show your faith in them as leaders. In addition, you guarantee that there is a subject matter expert in the classroom.
Leaders also have a thorough understanding of the day-to-day realities of their teams. Having a leader deliver or codeliver the training lends credibility so that employees are more likely to engage with both the content and the reason behind it. It helps them learn the material and also prepares leaders to be better coaches for their team members when they are applying the training back on the job.
How to Involve Leaders as Teachers
The key to bringing leaders on board with the idea of teaching is to make it simple for them. They are busy juggling multiple priorities, including managing and coaching their staff, completing reports for their own leaders, and staying on top of their own tasks. They may not see how taking on one more responsibility is realistic or beneficial. By making it easy, practical and valuable for them, you will demonstrate that you understand their viewpoint but also trust them to take on this important role.
The first step is to equip your leaders with the skills they need to teach. Then, design the content in simple, effective modules based on the desired outcomes. Each module needs a core message, easily digested information and hands-on activities. By equipping leaders with teaching skills and making the content easy for them to learn and then deliver, you help them look great in the classroom and feel confident in the value of the material, and you generate enthusiasm about the process.
When it comes to implementing training initiatives, whether it is a company-wide culture transformation or a more localized competency program, your most valuable teachers may be right under your nose. Whether you have them teach modules independently or play a role as a co-trainer, involving leaders in each part of the learner journey is beneficial for the entire initiative. No one can make the content as relevant as an insider can. Having leaders deeply engaged with the content equips them to coach their staff back on the job and communicate feedback upward about current and future needs.
Giving such an important role to your leaders shows them that you value their contributions, involves them directly with the success of the organization and offers them additional skill development of their own. With your own leaders on your side, you can ensure the success of your training and transformation initiatives.