One of the biggest challenge, you face, as a business manager is the paucity of training time and budget to up-skill your team members. As a result, the axe falls on the length of the sessions and the modules are fitted in some how or other.  Structured pre work can rescue you; pre-work is work that is assigned before a training session begins. Pre-work may help alleviate the strain on the budget or the timetable, while keeping the deliverables of the training process intact.

Taking advantage of pre work is one of the simplest and quickest ways that a training manager can get the groups’ energy focused on the topics of greatest concern to the whole group. When planned and implemented properly, structured pre work brings increased efficiency to the session by eliminating a significant amount of the time wasted as group members attempt to read, comprehend and react to the material they are seeing for the first time. Given the typical situation of new or freshly revised material, complex issues to be deciphered from the material and the tight time constraints in the session, it is extremely difficult for the group to effectively work through the issues.

So what are the pointers to keep in mind, when you are planning to use structured pre work technique?

Give adequate lead-time

You must ensure that it reaches the participants with enough lead-time for them to properly digest its content before the session. The lead-time can be anywhere from a few days to few weeks depending upon the complexity of the material and what activities are required.

Provide clear pre work instructions
It is imperative that the participants be given clear instructions as to what they are expected to do with the material before the session. For instance:

  • Read the attached report thoroughly and be prepared to discuss the pros and cons of the idea presented.Analyze the attached data and formulate your position regarding the proposed design change. All the team members will be given five minutes to present their initial position to the group.
  • Read the results of the study commissioned by us and respond to the four questions attached at the end. During the training session we will discuss all the four questions in detail.
  • Revise the attached budget figures in light of your new business objectives and be prepared to discuss the rationale for any change. Based on your input and the ensuing discussion, we will formulate a revised budget for the team’s consideration at the training session.

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Emphasize the need to complete pre work

When developing the instructions, be sure to emphasize that not fully completing the pre work will impair the information processing activity planned during the upcoming session.

Assign pre work only if it will be used

After emphasizing the importance of coming to the session properly prepared, the session manager must make use of the data generated or you will risk losing the capability.

Plan the process for in session use of pre work

The manner in which pre work will be handled in the session is a critical consideration.  There are various techniques and tools, which can be used, select the tools that are best suited for the objectives of the session.

The attractiveness of pre work process is that the burden of reading, comprehending and developing initial reaction to the material is shifted to each individual outside of the session; this, in turn frees precious meeting time for the group to do what it needs to do the most – process the information together. Additionally pre work is an effective way to rev up up energy for the training session too.

Jappreet Sethi

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