How to Use 1-on-1 Training Without Breaking the Bank

Written by Jessica Stillman | Apr 20, 2012 3:06:21 PM

When you hear the words "one-on-one training," your first impulse is probably to throw your hands in the air and explain about your squeezed budget. But fear not. We understand resources are tight. But even in today's era of less-than-luxurious learning and development spending, there's still a case to be made for tailor-made, personalized training.

It's a case Wayne Turmel made recently on UK business site Management Issues. He starts with the premise that training, like broccoli, may be good for employees, but they generally don't cheer it when it arrives. Why all the groaning and eye-rolling? As one exasperated woman charged with training employees on new software explained to Turmel, it's often down to the wildly variable learning goals of the group. He writes:

Catering to newbies

Some people need to start right at the basics. You can imagine how experienced users would react in a class of people whose first question is 'where's the ON switch, again?' Training frequently doesn't work because the newbies are intimidated by their more experienced peers and the experienced folks get all cranky because they're having their time wasted.The frustrated IT trainer came up with an elegant solution to this problem that proved a revelation to Turmel. Rather than trying to teach everyone together, she simply split her training time and resources and gave everyone a little bit of individual attention — teaching them exactly what they wanted to know."

"The response was amazing," Turmel reports. "Not only did people like the individual attention, but they learned what they felt was important to them. Those who were comfortable with the software got their questions answered, were happy and went back to work. They were more productive and considerably less miserable than before."

Affordable options

But Turmel also understands that, for budgetary reasons, the very thought of everyone demanding one-on-one training may give L&D pros "heart palpitations," as he puts it. So even if you're convinced that tailored individual training would in fact be best in terms of learning outcomes, is there any way you could conceivably afford it? Turmel insists it might not be nearly as expensive as you think, thanks to technology:

"One expert can make the rounds of several people in the course of a day. Not all the training needs to be in person, of course. Using WebEx or similar screen-sharing tools there are often no travel expenses at all, and you can cover multiple offices in a single day.

"More to the point, which is more valuable: training that doesn't cost much, or training that actually works without making people miserable and encourages them to use the tool right away?"

Are you being penny-wise but pound-foolish insisting on one-size-fits-all training?

London-based Jessica Stillman blogs about generational issues and trends in the workforce for Inc.comGigaOM and Brazen Careerist.

Image used under Creative Commons by Flickr user Knight Foundation.