There’s nothing more frustrating to me than having my time wasted, especially when project deadlines are looming around every corner. Unfortunately, most corporate-tailored training classes are just that; a waste of time.

Why is this? You may ask. The simple answer is complacency. Instructors are contracted out by training companies to cover cookie cutter material created by someone who doesn’t know anything about what you are working on, upper-level managers could care less about the specifics covered in a particular training class (and why should they?), and employees are so busy that they’ll do almost anything to get a free week away from their current project.

In a world of perpetually cut budgets, it’s a wonder that we get training at all. That’s why if you are lucky enough to (1) have a job and (2) get company sponsored training, it’s extremely important that you make the absolute most out of your training experience because, who knows when you’ll have this opportunity again?

Here are three things to think about to make sure you next training experience is not only beneficial to you, but also your company.

Synchronize with the training company before the class starts

This is easy to do even if you are not in charge of coordinating the training schedule. Take a look at the prospective class’ learning objectives and see if any of them line up to your current or upcoming projects. If they do, then great, skip to step 2. If not, then keep the ones you want and request some additional topics to replace the unnecessary ones.

Training companies make loads of cash off of your company every time they teach a class; shouldn’t you get your money’s worth?

If the training company is unwilling to mold their material to your needs, maybe it’s time to consider a different company.

Keep the class as hands-on as possible

For programmers, this means having them write lots of code. For managers, this means giving them group projects where they learn to practically use the skill they are learning. Having an instructor drone on for hours upon hours is not going to help anyone learn anything.

And please, do not create labs that have pre-built code in them and only require the students to add or modify a few lines to get the whole project working. This doesn’t help the learning process and is not any better than copying code directly off of the internet.

Your best bet is to find out what your group needs and get the labs tailored around that.

It’s up to you to get the most out of your training class

In some cases you won’t have any control over the course curriculum or lab structure but that doesn’t mean you’re in for a week of tedium. Find a tutorial on something related that you know will be of value to your group and go through it while the training is occurring. At least this way, you are learning what your company is paying you to learn, and it’s something that can directly benefit your group.

At the very worst case, say “thanks but no thanks” and get your money back for the class. Mangers will really appreciate your honesty and wisdom to step down from a situation that is only hurting everyone.

Training is a huge investment for your company, shouldn’t you be sure you get the most out of it?

Image From: NBC