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Overcoming Common Training Issues

April 28, 2011

Lately, I’ve been conducting several CLASS Use and Customization sessions with our newest CLASSclub members. It’s always great to have an opportunity to connect with clients, learn about their backgrounds, introduce our CLASS™ and CLASSe™ materials and discuss the training issues they’re facing today. No surprise, most firms are struggling with the same issues:

  • Getting lawyers to attend training
  • Dealing with shorter class times
  • Prioritizing training topics
  • Standardizing training and materials across their training teams

How do we get lawyers to attend training?

Prove to them that training is worth their time. When someone bills $500 an hour, it’s hard to justify spending even 30 minutes in training. But if you crunch the number of partners, their average hourly billable rate, hours spent each day on document production and their proficiency level with the applications they use, the dollar amount that deficiency is costing them may be the justification they need to take the time to sit in a classroom or schedule one-on-one coaching. Raising their skill level 5%, 10%, 15%… can amount to huge savings across the board.

Take the time to gain an understanding of how they work, focus on the skills needed to help them be more productive, then schedule a series of short 15-30 minute coaching sessions. A month down the road, write a success story featuring that lawyer and how they’re using these new skills to improve their practice.

How do we deal with shorter class times?

Our CLASS™ for 2010 series of materials now includes a Learning Plan Worksheet “LPW” with each course. These LPWs provide exercise timings and recommendations for different audiences. In addition, our CLASSe™ materials are storyboarded directly from our CLASS™ training guides, with each hands-on exercise having a corresponding eLearning Brief. Pair these two tools together, and you can identify foundational topics to be covered as pre-learning via eLearning prior to students coming to class, focus on the heavy hitting topics during the hands-on session, then challenge the users to complete the nice-to-know features via eLearning as post-training.

There’s so much to cover, where do we start and how do we prioritize?

Core competencies are always a good place to start, but still the list is extensive. Identify what is most important to the firm’s strategic goals. This will require a little research on your part and conversations with firm leaders. For example, if your firm specializes in environmental law; green initiatives may be a critical component in your outward facing image to clients. What part can each person play in reducing waste? Outline the Best Practices matching each of those goals; the core competencies required and the learning technique you’ll use to help the firm reach their strategic goals. Whether that’s hands-on training, eLearning, job aids or another learning technique, training can play a strategic role in the firm’s bottom line.

We have a team of trainers, how can we standardize the quality of training and written materials?

Using the same training materials throughout all offices is the first step in standardizing your training program. That’s what CLASS™ and CLASSe™ are for, but what about new home-grown courses? Performing internal teach-backs with your team allows both knowledge transfer and provides feedback from a training perspective. For written materials, develop a firm writing and style guide. Sit down as a training team and come to a consensus on topics such as style usage, phrasing and graphics. Your CLASS™ materials include templates and a writing and style guide, which we encourage you to use in developing new training materials to maintain a consistent look and feel. So, if you don’t have something already in place, these materials are a great starting point.

I hope I’ve given you a few ideas on overcoming some of the common challenges training teams face today.

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