'Full days x 5' or 'Half-days x 10'?Is one better than the other?

Paul Van Egdom is a trainer with TWR on loan from SIM. Paul now works from the USA having previously been based in South Africa. Prior to taking up the training role, Paul worked as a broadcaster in several African countries. He is a meber of the core team delivering the Institute’s Training of Trainers programme.

Over the time that I've been involved in training, I've wondered about the effectiveness of what seems to be the most common timetable of training - all day for five days.

It is true that having a concentrated period of training can be an advantage.  However, there are some difficulties which must be considered.

If the training is done 'off site' some definite challenges have to be worked through.  One is finding a suitable venue for the type of training - equipment, computers, projectors, printers, studio, etc.  There are also the logistics of transportation - is it close enough that people can travel from their homes each day or will a bus be needed for a more distant location?  And, of course, accommodationi has to be considered if people are not close enough to their homes to sleep in their own beds every night.  Oh, and meals too - lunch and teas/coffees only or all meals.

Although it can be helpful to be away from the office and studio for that time in order to concentrate on the training, there are still the pressures of urgent matters that have to be dealt with.  Things at the office (and personal things) still seem to creep into the training days no matter how hard we try to avoid them.

On the other hand, if the training is held at the office/studio there will almost always be interruptions for phone calls, meetings, on-air shifts or recordings, visitors, and any number of other reasons.  When that happens, not only will the individual miss out on what is said and done during the time they're away, it's an interruption in the attention of the others in the room as they go and return.

Taking five days away from their responsibilities means all their work 'piles up'.  It still has to be done, so in the week following the training they will be working on the everything that accumulated during the training week as well as the regular assignments they need to do.  My feeling is, by the time they catch up and are back on their regular schedule of production, all the material they covered in the training is a bit blurred and difficult to remember.

That's an all-day five-day one-week training.

Planning a half-day two-week event may produce a longer lasting effect.

With half-day training, staff members are able to keep up with their urgent work.  Perhaps the greatest benefit, though, is that they can start to apply what they've learned as they do their work.  Immediate application.  The smaller amounts they have to ponder each day lets them process those things more easily.

From my experience, I have found that rapport in the second week is different (and better) than in the first week.  The interactions and relationships of the second Monday are much 'easier' than on the Friday of the first week.  As the second week starts, they are familiar with the trainer's style; where there is a language or accent difference the comprehension is better; they have had the weekend to think and formulate questions; they seem to feel more free to ask questions; and, because they have had a chance to practice what they have learned, they are able to see how the training is improving their skills and understanding.

It is true that there are added expenses for the two-week training…the trainer has to be fed, accommodated, and transported from where she or he stays to the office/studio and back again.  On the other hand, all the trainees are living in their usual abode, using their usual transport, and they are able to keep up with at least some of their work…no additional costs involved for their participation.
The same amount of training is being given…it is only the duration of the event which is different.

With the two-week plan, there is less pressure work-wise, application can be immediate, and relationships have time to grow. 

So what does the trainer do the rest of the day?  If all the staff need the same training, it may be possible to train half of them in the morning and the other half in the afternoon.  Or, depending on the needs of the team, one subject can be given in the morning to one group and a different skill be given to another group in the afternoon.  If there is only one subject or skill to be taught for only some of the staff, the trainer is available for 'individual coaching, has her/his own work to do, and there is always preparation for the next day's sessions.

There are questions that need to be answered: What is the subject of the training? What is the type of the training? What is the budget for the training? Who will be participating? What is their current workload?

We need to determine which is the better plan for each particular event.  Which one will benefit the trainees the most?

Contact: pvanegdom@twr.org

Last modified: Tuesday, 18 February 2020, 10:17 AM