Step up to the plate with your company's spring training

For two months every year, Major League Baseball teams gather in the sunny states of Florida and Arizona to work out the kinks and prepare for a new season. It’s a time to refine their skills, make adjustments to their mechanics and practice, practice, practice … all before opening day in April.

Is it time for some spring training for your company team? Do your pitchers, catchers and position players need to get off the bench and hone their techniques for competitive play?

To borrow some thoughts from the Training Time rule book, you should start with a list of last year’s training – taking a good, hard look at what worked and what did not. Consider:

=> Which two training classes or programs got the highest ratings from participants? Which two or three garnered the lowest participant ratings?

=> Which training programs had the fastest participant sign-up rate? Which had the lowest?

=> Which training resulted in the largest impact on your employees' behavior, performance or productivity?

=> Which training was a complete flop? This could be people falling asleep, disappearing after breaks, daydreaming, texting under the table, negative behavior not changing or truly awful evaluations by participants. Be honest. Even if it was your absolute favorite session, if it flopped, it flopped.

=> Which training was the hands-down best for 2009? Again, be honest. Maybe it was one you hated or it was a pain to put together. But it worked and it worked well.

Finding the common factors

Now review your list and pinpoint the things your really good training sessions had in common. (And, of course, the things your really bad training sessions shared.) Look at:

Technique - Was it a lecture, video, activity, panel discussion or brainstorming session? Define the way information was conveyed.

Topic - Categorize your training sessions into a few topics. Management skills, productivity, legal issues, etc.

Training location - Where was the training presented? In a conference room, on the factory floor, offsite?

Teacher(s) - Who presented? Was it an individual or a team?

Tools - What tools were used in the training? Computers? Game show-like elements? Toys? Paper and pencil?

Timing - When was the training presented? First thing in the morning or right before quitting time? Over lunch or during a busy time of day? And how long did it last? An hour? All day? All week?

The hard part is over: You’ve identified the superstars and the minor leaguers. Now it's time to make changes in your training game plan that will improve play and lead to more wins.

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