Training Facilitation Guide
It’s no secret, leadership development that includes discussion among peers has improved learning outcomes. But there’s a problem – many companies don’t have HR professionals with time to lead discussions and it’s costly to hire consultants and external trainers.
This leads many companies to pick outdated training methods that don’t provide long-term behavior change, or worse, they skip training their supervisors and managers on the essential skills they need to be effective leaders who drive productivity and employee engagement.
To overcome these challenges, we designed The Leadership Journey for Supervisors & Managers using a new discussion-based learning model so that any employee in an organization can facilitate and lead group training sessions.
A few of the ideas you’ll learn from this guide:
- How to choose the best training facilitators from within your company.
- 7 Key benefits of using internal staff to lead group discussions.
- Key ingredients in discussion-based learning that allow anyone to facilitate group training.
- Suggestings for hiring facilitators, trainers, and consultants.
- Why a train-the-trainer program is a bad choice.
How to Use This Guide
- The focus of this guide is group learning, classroom or virtual. Blended learning, e-learning with group discussion, is also covered. (Self-paced e-learning options are available in other guides.)
- This guide is set-up so you can read it from the beginning to the end. As your training plan develops you may want to use the Table of Contents to move around.
- If you have any questions or would like to review a course, request a free training consultation.
- In this guide, and on our website, the following words are interchangeable:
- facilitator and group discussion leader
- supervisor, manager, leader, team lead, student, and participant
Table of Contents
Anyone Can Facilitate Group Training
7 Key Benefits of Using Employees to Facilitate Training
How Discussion-Based Learning Works
Facilitator Guides – Everything Discussion Leaders Need
Lean HR Departments – The Evolution of Discussion Based Learning
Train-the-Trainer – Obsolete Idea or Old Standby?
A Certified Facilitator Limits Options
Corporate Trainers – Happy Days are Here Again
Finding Facilitators from Within Your Company
Free Training Consultation
Anyone Can Facilitate Group Training
Developed around the latest research on adult learning, The Leadership Journey’s group training sessions (classroom) are designed so that any employee in an organization, even ones without previous facilitation experience, can lead group training sessions.
With group discussion leaders that are internal employees:
- Company knowledge and insights are passed along to the next generation of leaders.
- Management gains insights into the challenges supervisors face every day.
- Participants learn how the skills they are learning are relevant to their position, company, and industry.
- Supervisors and managers learn “what to do” and “what not to do” from their colleagues.
- Strong relationships develop among all participants.
- Everyone is on the same page, using the same language.
- There is improved communication skills and confidence among supervisors, managers, and group leaders.
Designed using discussion-based learning, group sessions are interactive with supervisors and managers sharing their experiences and insights rather than a trainer in front of the class lecturing students. They learn from each other and the course material.
The group leader is not teaching and training. They are like a traffic light, directing the flow of the conversation when needed. Discussion “drives” the training session, not an individual person. Group leaders follow simple step-by-step instructions.
Engaging and interactive course materials provide expertise and direction. Each course includes interactive video instruction with a world-renowned subject matter expert. Skills are taught in practical steps that can immediately be applied back on the job.
Supervisors learn new skills then participate in a discussion, sharing their ideas and past experiences related to what they learned. During discussion, they connect new skills to the job challenges they face every day. (Online, self-paced learning is also available.)
Supervisors place a high value on how they learn and the skills they are learning because they are applicable to their workplace challenges.
Facilitator, Participant, and Follow-up Guides are included with every course.
Facilitator guides were developed for facilitators with no prior experience in leading group training sessions. They include step-by-step instruction while the course materials provide expertise.
Facilitator guides include everything the group leader will need like:
- discussion questions that engage participants,
- tips to deal with conversation dominators,
- ways to project confidence even when you’re not, and
- timelines to make sure training sessions finish on time.
Classroom sessions take on a life of their own with a discussion “driving” the training session. As the discussion ebbs and flows the group leader makes sure they stick to the schedule and that every participant gets a turn to share. It’s not necessary for them to lecture and teach.
Open-ended discussion questions direct supervisors’ answers to real workplace challenges. Supervisors and managers have a focused discussion around the new skills they are learning and how those skills can be applied on the job.
- Supervisors support each other both during classroom learning and later as they integrate skills into the workplace with their personal action plans.
- At the beginning of every group training session, supervisors are held accountable to the group for sharing how they applied their new skills to their workplace challenges.
- Supervisors hear firsthand what worked for their colleagues, and what they would do differently as they apply their new skills in the workplace.
Other learning components include a pre-assessment to focus attention and activate prior knowledge, a short 12-minute video with a note-taking guide, skill practice exercises, a quiz to measure comprehension, and a personal action plan to apply skills back on the job.
Everything is included. You don’t need subject matter experts, instructional designers, or trainers to achieve improved productivity and teamwork from your supervisors. It’s a complete learning package to teach your supervisors and managers how to lead and manage their teams.
We didn’t start out with an active, discussion-based learning model, it evolved and grew over the last two decades.
Based on client requests from our seminar and workshop attendees, and research on adult learning, the first in-house version of The Leadership Journey was published in 2002. Years later when the economy slowed, the learning model evolved into its current form.
We noticed a trend; prospective clients were asking for in-house supervisor training materials that their managers could use to lead group-based training sessions. Their human resource departments were understaffed during these lean times and they had to invest their time on essential department functions.
Management had firsthand experience that their supervisors needed to develop their leadership skills now more than ever when business was slow. Management was willing to deliver and manage leadership training for their supervisors if they had the right program that didn’t require a lot of their time. Most didn’t have experience leading group training, so they needed a program that was easy to use and that would make them look good.
With feedback from instructional designers and our clients, we revised The Leadership Journey’s learning model so anyone without any facilitation experience could lead group training sessions.
The learning model further evolved when we start receiving feedback from clients that their supervisors were taking turns leading group training sessions. An experienced manager would often lead the first course, then supervisors would take turns being the group leader for the reaming courses in the curriculum.
Their managers figured, “What better way for my supervisors to learn to communicate and manage than by leading a group of their peers.”
The Leadership Journey doesn’t require facilitators to take a train-the-trainer class or to be a certified group leader.
Train-the-trainer is required for leadership training programs when the trainer needs to become the subject matter expert.
Using discussion-based learning, group sessions are interactive with supervisors and managers sharing their experiences and insights rather than a trainer in front of the class lecturing students.
The Leadership Journey is simple and turnkey. Engaging and interactive course materials provide expertise and direction. Everything is included that a group leader needs to lead lively discussions. Classroom sessions take on a life of their own with discussion “driving” the training session.
Train-the-Trainer Programs Are Expensive
Leadership training programs that require train-the-trainer certifications don’t maximize an organization’s return on investment. These programs are expensive in terms of time and money.
A company must pay for the train-the-trainer program along with any travel and lodging expenses. The person receiving the certification is usually pulled out of the office for 2-3 days. After paying for the expenses associated with certifying a trainer, a company still must purchase the licenses to teach their supervisors and managers leadership skills.
What happens when the certified trainer has a time-consuming project and won’t be available for six months? What happens when the certified facilitator leaves their company?
The Leadership Journey training program stays with an organization and its supervisors. It is not reliant on one individual.
The goal of leadership training should be to teach supervisors and managers how to lead and manage their teams. Time and money should be spent on developing leadership skills, not certifying trainers.
One of our clients explained it this way, “Certifying a trainer for leadership training is like using a payphone to make a telephone call. If you can find a payphone and a quarter, you can make a call, but there are cheaper and quicker ways to communicate. There is no reason to use a payphone to make a call.” There is no reason to certify a trainer or facilitator if your company is using The Leadership Journey.
Designed using a discussion-based learning model, The Leadership Journey’s classroom training is designed so that any employee in a company, even ones without previous facilitation experience, can lead group training sessions.
Do You Have Corporate Trainers and Facilitators on Staff?
Now that the economy is strong, many of our clients have HR and training departments that are fully staffed. Most do a fantastic job leading group training sessions.
If your company is lucky enough to have trainers and facilitators, and they have time, use them to lead group training sessions; it’s just not necessary with The Leadership Journey.
When using internal human resources professionals their goal should be to make discussions inclusive and engaging. They should understand they don’t need to be a subject matter expert or teacher.
Experienced trainers and facilitators will sometimes turn into a teacher that lectures supervisors. They become “the sage on the stage” sharing their expertise. They become the “focus” of the class. This limits the time supervisors can share their own experiences, impedes discussion, and decreases the opportunity for supervisors to learn how to apply new skills to their workplace challenges.
The Leadership Journey is designed for group discussion around real workplace examples. When supervisors or their managers are the group discussion leader, they are much better at being a “guide on the side” rather than the “sage on the stage.” Make sure your trainers let the discussion-based learning model work its magic.
Finding Facilitators from Within Your Company
Nobody knows your business like its people. That’s why we designed The Leadership Journey using an active, discussion-based learning model. It’s designed so any employee in a company, even ones with no previous facilitation experience, can lead group training sessions.
Classroom training sessions are interactive. They are built around group discussions with every supervisor sharing personal insights, ideas, and experiences rather than a trainer in front of the class. Engaging and interactive course materials provide expertise and direction.
The group leader is not teaching and training. Discussion “drives” the training session, not an individual person. Group leaders follow simple step-by-step instructions.
Learn more about this active, discussion-based learning model.
Explore each section below to discover the best fit for your company.
The Leadership Journey is a turnkey training program that includes everything a company needs to develop high-performing supervisors and managers who improve productivity, employee engagement, and teamwork.
Built using an active, discussion-based learning model any employee can lead group training sessions. The group leader is not teaching and training. Engaging and interactive course materials provide expertise and direction.
Discussion “drives” each training session, with supervisors sharing personal insights, ideas, and experiences rather than a trainer in front of the class.
Three Common Approaches to Using Management as Discussion Leaders
- Managers of the supervisors that are taking the training.
- Directors from each department within a company.
- Managers who are also students of The Leadership Journey. (Learn more about this option.)
Show Your Employees How Important They Are
Companies will often use a high-level executive to be the discussion leader for the first training session. Using a recognized authority figure to lead the first course shows the participants the importance the company is placing in their development. Supervisors experience firsthand the commitment their company is making in them and their development.
Management Gains Insights into the Challenges Supervisors Face Every Day
Using management as group leaders is a great way for management to gain insights into the challenges supervisors face in their day-to-day operations. During training sessions, expertise and knowledge are passed both directions – from manager to supervisor and from supervisor to manager.
Company Knowledge is Passed to Future Leaders
Using management as group leaders is a great way to pass along company knowledge to the next generation of leaders. The training sessions create an opportunity for important discussions to happen in a productive and positive manner. Were it not for The Leadership Journey the discussions that pass knowledge to the next generation of leaders may have never happened. That experience would have been lost.
Managers Offer Insights That Only They Can Provide
During group discussions, management can offer additional company-specific insights that supervisors may not have experienced. Insights that are unique to the supervisors, their teams, and their responsibilities.
Strong Relationships Develop Between Managers and Supervisors
When managers lead group training, strong relationships develop between the managers and supervisors. It builds teamwork, improves cross-departmental relationships, and increases productivity. These strong bonds last decades and drive long-term performance improvements.
Management Can Assess A Supervisor’s Leadership Potential
Using managers as group leaders also provides management an opportunity to assess the supervisor’s skills outside the normal work environment. They understand their supervisors on a new level, interacting with them and measuring their future potential in the organization. Management can evaluate the next group of supervisors and know who is ready to take on additional responsibilities or step up into a new role.
Everyone is on the Same Page
When managers are group leaders, they understand the skills their supervisors are developing. It keeps everyone on the same page, using the same terminology and solving problems using the same practical steps taught in The Leadership Journey. It establishes a consistent standard that everyone follows.
The Leadership Journey’s classroom sessions are designed so that any employee, even ones without previous facilitation experience, can lead group training sessions.
In the last few years, our team noticed a trend where the supervisors who were participating in training would often take turns leading group training sessions. This is no surprise as the program’s engaging and interactive course materials provide expertise, so there is no need for professional trainers or experienced facilitators.
Discussion “Drives” Each Training Session
The Leadership Journey is built around adult learning principles using discussion-based learning. Group sessions are interactive with every supervisor sharing their insights, ideas, and experiences rather than a trainer in front of the class lecturing students. Discussion “drives” the training session, not an individual person. Supervisors learn from each other as well as the course material.
Supervisors Develop Communication Skills and Confidence
When supervisors take turns being a group leader they are not only learning and applying the practical leadership skills taught in The Leadership Journey, they are improving their interpersonal communication and speaking skills. They are practicing how to run effective meetings and gaining confidence in their leadership ability. These are all essential skills they need as they lead and manage their teams.
Supervisors Aren’t Teachers
Supervisors don’t need to be a subject matter expert in the course content. They don’t stand up front teaching, lecturing and passing along their knowledge. They attend the training session with the same background knowledge as the other participants.
They manage the discussion. Their colleagues share insights, ideas, and experiences. As the group discussion leader, their responsibility is to make sure the class finishes on time and that every participant has a chance to share during discussion.
Supervisors Become Comfortable Sharing and Leading Peers
When supervisors lead the group training sessions, class participation increases. Everyone feels comfortable sharing their experiences and ideas with peers. It develops strong bonds among participants and builds teamwork that drives the productivity of your organization.
Can Supervisors with Greasy Hands and Steel Toed Boots Lead a Group Training Discussion?
The Leadership Journey was used by the public works department for a large county in the Twin Cities metropolitan area. They used their supervisors as group leaders. One of the directors responsible for bringing the program into the county had a doctorate in management, was a skilled facilitator and trainer, and had taught at two well-known universities.
With her expertise and background, she had doubts that her supervisors that had responsibilities like road maintenance, plowing streets, and digging ditches would want to lead group training sessions and could do so effectively. After some encouragement, she decided to give it a try.
After introducing The Leadership Journey and her training plans to the department, she offered an optional class for any supervisor that wanted to learn more about leading a group training session. She was anticipating seven supervisors would show up. Twenty-five attended the optional class to learn more. After learning about being a group leader, twenty volunteered to lead group training sessions.
As they progressed through the curriculum, she noticed a “substantial improvement” in those supervisor’s ability to communicate internally with their teams and externally with other departments and the public.
Opportunity For Every Supervisor
The pubic works department had a lot of supervisors located at one location. Our clients in similar situations will often run small classes at different times so every supervisor can be a group leader at least one time. It also keeps class sizes small, so everyone has an opportunity to share their insights and experiences.
Many of our clients have supervisors spread out at multiple locations, or they only have a few supervisors. Clients in these situations will often have their supervisors lead multiple training sessions. Supervisors hone their communication and speaking skills when leading multiple training sessions.
The Leadership Journey is a turnkey training program that includes everything an organization needs to teach supervisors and managers how to lead and manage their teams. Built using an active, discussion-based learning model any employee, even ones without previous facilitation experience can lead group training sessions.
The Leadership Journey’s classroom sessions are built around group discussions with every supervisor sharing their insights, ideas, and experiences rather than a trainer in front of the class. Supervisors learn from each other as well as the course material.
Engaging and interactive course materials provide expertise and direction so experienced facilitators are not needed.
A train-the-trainer or certification program isn’t required.
Discussion “drives” the training session, not an individual person. As the discussion ebbs and flows the group leader makes sure that every participant gets a turn and the class finishes on time – they don’t lecture and teach.
Using In-house Experts from HR and Training Departments
Many of our clients have skilled HR and training professionals who do a wonderful job facilitating group discussions. They are valuable assets that can enhance and support training, but they are often pressed for time with many competing responsibilities. We’ve found they prefer to spend their “training time” on company-specific instruction that can’t be purchased from an outside training partner.
Coaches Who Connect Skills to the Workplace – Not Subject Matter Experts
For trainers, facilitators, and human resource professionals that do decide to lead group discussions it is important that they understand they don’t need to be a subject matter expert. They aren’t teaching and lecturing, they are managing a discussion. They should act as a coach and facilitator helping supervisors connect the skills they are developing to their real workplace challenges.
Maximizing Time and Resources
After reviewing a course and facilitator guide from The Leadership Journey, companies often decide that their supervisors or management team can easily lead training sessions. They realize their company will be better off by doing so. Supervisors will improve their communication skills and gain confidence while management will pass along expertise and company knowledge. Strong relationships will develop among everyone involved.
Very few of our clients hire consultants, trainers, and facilitators from outside their company to lead group training with The Leadership Journey. Why?
Training is Designed so Anyone can Lead Group Training Sessions
First, The Leadership Journey is designed so that any employee, even ones without previous facilitation experience, can lead group training sessions. The most common group leaders are the supervisors and managers participating in training, management, or internal HR professionals.
The Leadership Journey is built around adult learning principles, using discussion-based learning. Group sessions are interactive with every supervisor sharing their insights, ideas, and experiences rather than a trainer in front of the class lecturing students. Supervisors learn from each other as well as the course material.
Engaging and interactive course materials provide expertise and direction so there is no need for experts outside your company.
Trainers and Facilitators are Expensive
The second reason, it’s expensive to hire facilitators and trainers. It frequently increases a client’s investment by a multiple of five. This often makes training their supervisors and managers cost-prohibitive.
Professional Trainers and Facilitators – A Broken Business Model
The business model that enables professional consultants and trainers to be profitable doesn’t align with the latest research on adult learning.
Adults learn best from short training sessions that are spaced out over time. Many of the workshops and classes professional trainers and facilitators offer will last five or six hours, sometimes over consecutive days. When they offer long classes they maximize their time and earn a good profit margin, but it is at the expense of the students they are teaching. Student retention after 30 days is less than 10% for classes lasting over 2 hours.
The Leadership Journey training sessions are short and frequent. A class will last one or two hours. Sessions are held every 2-4 weeks. Students are never overwhelmed with too much information at any one time.
The profit margin for outside trainers and facilitators to lead a one or two hour is small. To improve the margin, they’ll charge a minimum, often for a half-day of training. When they include prep time and travel expenses on top of their minimum, it becomes very expensive to hire outside trainers to facilitate short and frequent training sessions.
Professional trainers will often suggest that they lead two classes back-to-back instead of spacing them out over 2-4 weeks. Offering two training sessions back to back will overwhelm supervisors with two much information. Adults learn best with short, frequent bursts of learning. (Offering back-to-back sessions to different groups of participants is a good alternative, but the participants in each class must be different.)
To compensate for their high fees, these professionals will often allow their clients to send as many supervisors as they want to a training session. This reduces the cost per student and makes their fees appear more manageable. The cost per supervisor is reduced, but their training sessions are often overcrowded, feeling more like a seminar.
When training classes are overcrowded, very few supervisors have the opportunity to share their personal insights and experiences. Participation is limited to the most outgoing supervisors. Learning is restricted. Very few supervisors make impactful changes that provide long-term improvements to morale and productivity.
If a consultant or trainer lets you send as many supervisors as you like to training, make sure you come to an agreement on:
- The maximum number of supervisors that can be in each training session, and
- The number of training sessions that will be offered for each course.
Let’s say you have 16 supervisors. Will the trainer offer two sessions for each course with 8 supervisors in each session, or will they offer one session with 16 supervisors?
“Sage on the Stage”
While there are many remarkable professional trainers, facilitators, and consultants that are cost-effective, our clients generally share their bad experiences. The most frequent complaint we hear about outside professionals hired to lead training sessions is that they try to be a “Sage on the Stage.” They deviate from the curriculum adding theory, irrelevant stories, and suggestions that confuse supervisors.
The focus of the training class becomes teaching and lecturing, rather than facilitating discussion among supervisors. Supervisors are passively listening, instead of engaged and participative. Supervisors develop a bad taste for training.
Nobody knows your company and its challenges like your employees, supervisors, and managers. Trainers and workshop leaders will never be able to offer game-changing insights like your people.
After evaluating The Leadership Journey curriculum and our proprietary discussion-based burst learning model nearly 100% of our clients choose to use someone internal like their supervisors and managers participating in training, management team, or HR professionals to lead group training.
If you prefer external facilitators and have the budget, Business Training Experts has a strategic partnership with an international group of certified facilitators who know how to do it the right. Request a free training consultation and a training consultant can provide details.
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