Gaining Buy-In for Pre-Training Activities

pre-training assignments

Marla Rosner, Senior Learning & Development Consultant, MSA Worldwide

“What’s the best way to get learners to complete pre-training assignments?”

This surfaced as a recent topic in one of my LinkedIn groups. A range of answers was put forth, the most surprising from an instructional designer who stated that pre-training assignments were a “cop-out.” Instead, she asserted that course designers should not impose upon classroom training participants to prepare in advance of a program; the course itself should be inclusive of any activities required.

Though I agree that a pre-training requirement may surprise the learner by involving a time commitment, this shows a failure to communicate and shape expectations in advance of a class, rather than poor design of the program. As we know, considering the high cost to the business of learners being away from their jobs, cost of travel, the trainer’s time, etc., it’s critical to maximize the use of everyone’s time when people come together for a classroom program. Pre-training assignments offer logical efficiency, leveraging both online learning methods and classroom training methods.

If pre-training assignments are of value, how do we ensure that program participants are not surprised by them, and also recognize the benefits of completing them? How does that get accomplished in the franchise environment with the two training audiences most likely to be brought into a classroom environment: franchisees, and management-level employees?

Pre-Training for Franchisees

For initial franchise training, new franchisees are motivated to make training time in the classroom as efficient as possible, and generally recognize the value of preparing assignments in advance of class. After all, they are focused on site build-out, inventory ordering, and pre-opening marketing, so judiciously using their time away from their site development is critical.

An advance call that orients the new franchisee to the entire training schedule, and reviews pre-training assignments, immediately engages the franchisee and frames any pre-work in the context of moving their training process along using the most efficient means. In some cases, we help our clients create multiple modules that can be completed in a pre-training mode using crisply written assignments that are processed in a call or webinar prior to classroom training.

To underscore to franchisees the importance of completing pre-training assignments, some franchise agreements include a requirement to submit evidence of successful completion of the training modules. Additionally, they may also require the franchisee to pay a substantial fee should the training program need to be re-scheduled due to a failure to complete pre-training.

Pre-Training for Managers

Due to concerns about joint-employment and vicarious liability, some franchisors have shied away from communicating directly with a franchisee’s staff, including their unit managers. Training a franchisee’s management team is generally not a problem, however; manager certification programs are common in franchises, and often addressed in the franchise agreement.

What is an issue, from a practical standpoint, is that many franchisors that deliver manager training fail to keep the manager’s boss in the loop about the program expectations. Managers are more likely to show up with pre-training assignments done when their well-informed boss has had a conversation with them about what needs to be accomplished before class. This also gives the franchisee a chance to assist the manager, e.g., provide statistics or other information required to complete assignments.

When a manager is enrolled in a training program, a letter describing the class, a program outline, and a copy of the material the manager has received about the class should automatically go out to their direct supervisor, whether a franchisee or general manager. This information allows the supervisor to understand the scope of what is required of their manager, support him or her in getting the most from the class, and effectively reinforce program content when the manager completes the course.

Using the most effective and efficient methods for training is essential to equip franchisees and their managers to fulfill your brand standards. Explore the MSA website for more information on franchisee training programs and unit manager training, and contact us to help you analyze your training and manuals needs.

– Marla Rosner, Senior Learning & Development Consultant, MSA Worldwide
(415) 225-8607 • mrosner@msaworldwide.com