Training Seminars vs. One on One Coaching

Being a trainer, tutor and mentor for over 15 years I have learned a lot about the human condition. So many times I came across people that were virtually un-trainable simply because they were too busy fighting the process of learning; instead of using that energy to learn. The type that you have to drag there kicking and screaming. More often than not they are sales people that are being asked to adhere to a new set of compliance rules or in some cases their employer wants them to better leverage the software they use. Training sales people is always challenging at best and in some cases downright impossible. I have had quite a different experience with the administrative and financial employees as they tend to believe in concise methodology and don’t really need to be convinced that there are better ways to do things.

One other factor in determining whether training or tutoring would be the better option is knowing the audience that you are dealing with. In a scenario with a group of sales people it is rare that you arrive to setup and find that the class is waiting and ready. Sales people are notoriously late and their lack of focus proves disruptive as many tend to have attention deficit disorder (ADD); makes it very difficult for the instructor to follow a pre-defined agenda. They tend to be very independent in their thinking and cannot adjust to formal methods that force them to redefine their natural tendencies.

 Experience has taught me that training sales people, executives and business owners in an instructor lead class in liable to be an exercise in frustration. Other office staff like accounting professionals, office administrators and other logistics workers tend to logically accept methodology that has been tried and proven to be effective. The term I use is “methodical workers”. The can see the benefit of using and practicing pre-defined business processes. The other type I refer to as the “nonconformist.” Sometimes referred to as “Mavericks” they are non-conformists and they like to do things their way and they relish in their independence. 

What you will find is that methodical worker types are usually perfect for instructor lead seminars; you must train mavericks in one-on-one coaching sessions that can be tailored specifically to their needs. The most crucial part is that you consult the client first and make sure that their needs are met during the session. Tutoring as a teaching method is also great for those that might not learn as quickly in a group situation and might fall behind. Since coaching is focused specifically on the student, the speed of which the training takes place and the topics is guaranteed to be ideal and relevant. 

Another aspect of training that tends to be true but is often overlooked is that some adults have trouble sitting and learning for more than 2 hours without taking a break. I usually run my one on one sessions so that we take a 15 minute break once every two hours. We take a half an hour lunch and a follow it up with an mid afternoon break before ending the session. These sessions are usually cost a flat fee for a set amount of hours. However some adults cannot absorb more than a couple of hours of training a day. I bill those sessions by the hour as opposed to a flat rate for a certain amount of hours. Often the determination is budget. Since most adults tend to be task oriented they tend to want to be doing something that achieves a result. This is where I have learned to modify my teaching to include far more interactive exercises that allows the participant to experience the learning first hand. The more that participants do, regardless of which method you use, the more they tend to retain.

 So what about cost considerations? I am asked that question all the time. The cost effectiveness of one on one training versus instructor lead training can very hard to quantify depending on the precise circumstances. However, in most cases people tend to be looking at the situation from the cost of the class or instructor/coach. The flipside is there is a cost to the student as well. Anyone that is employed and is taken away from their daily responsibility is getting paid but not working. If the participant is a sales person or business owner that usually makes money during normal business hours, then tying them up in an all day training session has an opportunity cost associated with it. It could be argued that once you take into consideration the greater value received from one on one training as opposed to more generic instructor lead training, the cost advantage shifts dramatically.


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