Remember that scene in “When Harry Met Sally” and Sally places an order at a diner but has so many changes to the order that she practically creates a new dish? Her pie ala mode becomes such a production that the waitress gives her a nasty look and Harry is agog.
The implication is that this chick is HIGH MAINTENANCE and, let’s face it, a little whacky.
But I think law firm trainers can learn a lot from this scene. In fact, if you find yourself rolling your eyes like the waitress or stunned like Harry when your learners state that they’d rather learn by ___________ (insert: webinar, quick reference guide, classroom training, mobile app, video tutorial…), then you’re probably missing a big opportunity to move your entire firm forward.
Yes, the crazy “pie ala mode” request for individualized learning may not be just one whacky attorney’s annoying way to make your life hard: it may actually be an opportunity for you to deliver training that moves everyone forward.
Think of Yourself as a Short-Order Cook
Gone are the days when you can schedule in-class trainings on your terms and time constraints and expect everyone to sign up. In fact, those days are long gone. Now, I’m not saying classroom trainings are a way of the past. Not in the slightest. However, you need to offer them as one selection in your ever-changing menu of ala carte training options.
Your learning menu might include the following (think of these as the delivery methods… the entrees):
Classroom-Based Instructor-Led Trainings
Virtual Instructor-Led Trainings
Learner-Generated Content (an exciting newish development in training that I’ll write about in a future article)
So, you have your list of entrees. The trick is in how you deliver them to the learners.
Deliver the Meal at The Proper Pace
When you’re at a restaurant, you don’t want your salad before your entrée. The meal is paced for your enjoyment. The same is true with today’s training protocols. If one of your attorneys arrives at your learning establishment having already eaten a salad and wants to go straight to the filet mignon, would you force her to eat salad? No, you’d cater to her wishes.
This is called “self-paced learning” and it is absolutely critical that you enable learners to tackle topics and challenges when and how they need it. Yes, your firm likely has benchmarks (for time and content) that each person must meet, but how and when they do it should be largely in their own hands. If Mr. Smith is a night owl and prefers to watch webinars after his family has gone to sleep, then make that possible!
The trick is in tracking what the staff and attorneys have studied and learned so that there is accountability and forward progress. Think of this like the bill in the restaurant. You have to keep track of everything you deliver to the table so that the diners pay the proper amount at the end. I suggest that for this complicated process, you subscribe to a learning management system, which can house all of the learning materials that you want to offer (your menu), and also can track what each learner “orders.”
In essence, self-paced learning is like letting Sally have it all her way.
Make Each Dish Sound Amazing
Let’s face it: you’re not actually offering filet mignon. You are offering “How to Create a Table of Contents in MS Word.” So, you need to make your offerings sound appealing to your “diners.” I recently read an article by Sean McGinty on the ILTA website. The dude knows how to sell a class. Sean wrote:
“So, when it comes to marketing, I always lean towards humor and/or keeping it simple. One of my most attended recursive training sessions was, “I can’t find F*@king anything in FileSite!” It was the same course as “How to Search for Documents and Emails in FileSite” that no one other than my regulars attended. The learners loved it.”
In the end, it all comes down to the basic tenets of customer service. Listen to your customers and deliver your products in ways that they find most useful.
If you have any questions about this article, contact me at: Doug@SavvyTraining.com, 303-800-5408. We can discuss the best, most cost-efficient ways for you to deliver the trainings that your firm needs.