Management by objective is basic expectations setting 101; people will tend to achieve the expectations we set for them. Yet, when it comes to training sessions, we often don’t worry about any expectations until there are “cheeks in the seats.” At that point, we set them. The problem is that expectations for the training have already been largely set; it’s uphill trying to change them.
By this time, attendees have already read some sort of description of the training. Most likely, they’ve already heard their managers’ rationales for attending the training. If someone has already attended the training, the “grapevine effect” is in full force. Just as politicians, coaches and promoters work hard to set expectations before elections, games and events, the same should be done for training.
Here are some pointers on what to do prior to the training:
- Invest more energy on the training’s title than on its description; make it marketable yet accurate
- Script what managers or promoters of the training should say about it, including FAQ’s
- Give trainers as much access as possible to potential attendees (i.e. emails, promotional information, links)
- Ensure logistics (i.e. hotel, travel, directions, instructions) run soundly and a helpline exists
- Send a detailed agenda at least a few days prior
- If the training is part of a multi-day event, create opportunities for trainers to socialize with attendees
- Ensure all communication channels (i.e. materials, websites, announcements) are under control and delivering a consistent message
In short, the more you treat the announcement of your training as a marketing effort, the more likely you are to succeed in ensuring the right expectations are set when attendees walk through the door or log in.