Is your organization thinking about or planning an internal leadership, management, communication, and/or personal development seminar, webinar, or workshop? Want to earn a return on your investment? Then please consider the following 7-step process for planning, conducting, and following up on your education and training (E&T) event:
- Define the purpose: What problem are you trying to solve, what opportunity are you preparing for, and/or what issue are you attempting to resolve? Make sure that E&T is the most effective way to accomplish your purpose. For example, maybe enforcing an existing policy or creating and implementing a new policy would be a more cost-effective approach. If E&T is the best course of action, go to Step 2.
- Create the content: Assemble teaching and learning materials aligned with the purpose of the E&T. Prepare the content in the form of modules, that is, one to two-hour interactive teaching-learning experiences, rather than single, long periods. Reason: Provides flexibility in delivery in that you can mix and match modules appropriate to various audiences. For example, assume you have six project management modules and eight communication modules. Then you will be able to assemble and deliver a subset of them for a particular audience such as new project managers. (See the end of this white paper for a list of 48 typical modules arranged in these 5 categories: Communication, Personal Development, Professional Practice, Project Management, and Miscellaneous.)
- Select presenters: Use mostly your personnel supplemented with some outside experts. I have yet to find an organization that does not have at least a few staff professionals who are experts, widely respected, and good communicators. The principal reason for relying heavily on your personnel is that they can relate best to your organization’s problems, opportunities, and issues. Assist them in preparing first-class teaching-learning modules.
- Do not attempt a brain dump: Don’t bring a bunch of busy personnel together—either face-to-face or via an internal webinar, lecture to them, “pound” ideas and information into their heads, expect them to absorb it, and then send them on their way. If you do that, my experience suggests that very little of what is presented will register and be used – a poor investment. Instead, apply Step 5.
- Set yourself up for a positive ROI: Conduct the planned solid program using the selected topics and presenters – mostly your personnel. Also, and this is critical, assign some “homework” prior to the workshop and use breakouts, hands-on tasks, and other active collaborative participation during the workshop. Then create post-workshop activities that will encourage each workshop participant to at least experiment with what he or she learned at the workshop and/or share some of it with others. We learn by doing at the E&T event and by applying and/or sharing what we learned after the event.
- Provide CEUs or PDHs: While the primary purpose of your organization’s education and training (E&T) events is the personal and professional development of your personnel, these gatherings can also earn continuing education units (CEUs) or professional development hours (PDHs) for participants. Each of your presentations is more likely to be eligible for CEUs or PDHs if they have the following features: 1) clearly stated purpose, 2) detailed handout , 3) list of resources (articles, books, websites, e-newsletters), 4) sufficient duration, 5) biographical sketch that presents relevant credentials of the presenter, and 6) an interactive approach.
- Assess the results: In the spirit of continuous improvement, conduct an anonymous evaluation of the E&T event content, presenters, and logistics at the event’s conclusion – before everyone leaves. Then, within a few weeks to a month, evaluate again. And, if your E&T is a sustained effort with on-going events, conduct an annual evaluation. These post-event and, if appropriate, annual evaluations are critical. Look for your ROI by using metrics such as changed behavior, application of new knowledge and skills, better budget performance, more profitability, enhanced morale, reduced turnover, improved recruitment, and overall improved performance. Identify lessons learned from the evaluations and use them to improve subsequent E&T offerings.
Perhaps the preceding 7-Steps seem cumbersome. While I am probably advocating more up-front effort than is normally done, that initial investment will pay off during and after the E&T event in terms of a solid ROI.
Drawing on my teaching engineering, and seminar/webinar/facilitation/workshop experience, perhaps I could assist you in planning your E&T event and/or being a presenter at the event. I’ve helped the following business, government, volunteer, and academic organizations plan E&T programs and/or participated as a presenter/facilitator in their programs:
- Academy of Geo-Professionals
- American Society of Civil Engineers
- Bonar Group
- Boston Society of Civil Engineers
- BSA Life Structures
- Castilla LaMancha University
- Clark Dietz
- Earth Tech/Rust Environment & Infrastructure
- Indiana Department of Natural Resources
- Indiana Department of Transportation
- J.F. New
- Leggett, Brashears & Graham
- Midwest Geosciences Group
- Pennoni Associates
- Wisconsin, University of, Department of Engineering Professional Development
Working with preceding private, public, volunteer, and academic organizations, I have presented or facilitated hundreds of face-to-face seminars, workshops, meetings, and distance-learning webinars. In serving them, I have developed and “road tested” many teaching-learning modules most of which are listed below.
Each of the topics listed below, that is, the specific content and the format in which they were presented or facilitated, was originally tailored to meet the E&T needs of one or more organizations. Experience indicates that E&T events and facilitation efforts must be tailored to an organization -- “off the shelf” does not work.
Topics that I have presented/facilitated are listed here to suggest the variety of material that is available and the various means (e.g., face-to-face or webinars) that can be used to acquire additional knowledge and skill, solve problems, pursue opportunities, or resolve issues. Perhaps some of these or similar topics, with careful customized content, would meet the needs of your organization.
- Asking and Listening: Learning About Needs So We Can Fill Them
- Basic Business Communications
- Facilitating Action-Oriented Meetings
- Preparing, Presenting, and Publishing Professional Papers
- Speaking to Make Good Things Happen: Preparing, Presenting, and Following Up
- Writing: Producing Action-Oriented Documents
- Improved Project Communication: Within and Outside of the Project Team
- Change: Can You Spare a Paradigm?
- Change: What Does and What Doesn’t
- Conference Attendance: More “Bang for the Buck” for You and Your Organization
- Dealing with Difficult Behavior and Situations
- Delegation: Why Put Off Until Tomorrow What Someone Else Can Do Today?
- Engineering Your Future in Challenging Economic Times: 10 Tips
- Goal Setting and Getting: The Power of Goals for You and Your Organization
- Leadership: Developing the Leader Within You and Others
- Managing and Leading: Lessons Learned for Engineers
- Mentoring: Guidance for the Mentor, the Protégé, and the Organization
- Personal Time Management: Achieving Life Balance
- Taking Talent to the Next Level: 10 Tips
- 10 Tips for Achieving Success and Significance
- The Thrive 5
- Benchmarking: Defining Where We Are To Help Decide Where We Want To Go
- Avoiding Legal and Other Problems: Lessons Learned
- Developing Effective Teams: Together Everyone Achieves More
- Ethics in the Consulting Business
- 5 Habits of Highly-Effective Marketers
- Flying Solo: How to Start an Individual Practitioner Consulting Business
- Lessons Learned By Project Managers for Project Managers
- Liability: Minimizing It Is Everyone’s Job
- Marketing: What Clients Are Looking For
- Marketing 101 – Sleazy Activity of Mutually-Beneficial Process?
- Retaining and Recruiting “A” Personnel: Anticipating the Post-Recession
- Superior Client Service: What Does Your Client Want?
- The 7 Qualities of Effective Leaders
- Critical Path Method: Introduction to the Method and Software
- Want to be a Project Manager? Look Before You Leap
- Improved Project Communication: Within and Outside of the Project Team
- Monitoring Project Budgets and Schedules: Introduction to the Earned Value Method
- Project Plans: The Why and How of Project Planning
- Quality: What Is It? How Do We Achieve It? Quality Control and Quality Assurance
- Scope Creep: Preventing and Resolving Through Project Planning
- Bottom Line Approach to Your Organization’s Education and Training Program
- Client Roundtables
- Creating A Corporate University to Support Organizational Vision-Mission-Values
- Preparing Floodplain Guidelines
- Motivating Personnel: Hire and Grow Winners
- Non-Point Source Pollution Indicator Study
- Pipe Panel: Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) versus Ductile Iron (D)
If you wish to discuss my experience and/or the possibility of working with you, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call me at 219-242-1704. By way of further introduction, click here to see my short biographical sketch.
Stu Walesh, Ph.D., P.E
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