I’m speaking at The Bank Trainers Conference next week on what it takes to create and maintain a highly functional training department. Based on my book The Training Physical: Diagnose, Treat and Cure Your Training Department, my goal is to have my audience of 60 people return to their workplace and take the steps necessary to improve their training functions.
Now while I think it is very important for a conference speaker to have a goal in mind for their audience, it is more important that employers have actionable objectives for each employee attending a conference to return to work with. Most conferences are educational and are built around problem solving and new solutions, so when you send an employee for professional development at a conference, why not make them accountable?
Determine what sessions they will attend, and what they hope to bring back with them. You can call this a pre-conference discussion to set expectations. Then when they return from the conference, spend time reviewing their experience and what they are planning to do differently with their new skills or knowledge. Support their professional development by holding them accountable to using what they learned.
To a greater degree than attending a workshop, conferences are often looked at as short working vacations. All the extra activities in a conference outside of actual learning sessions are designed to make the event fun and sell a lot of tickets. The one I’m speaking at next week is on the Disney World property in Orlando, so guess what a lot of participants are doing in their evenings and after the conference is over? While this is good marketing, it doesn’t say that this kind of professional development needs to be less accountable.
I can almost spot the participants that are being held accountable for their learning. They participate better, ask questions after the event, and are more interested in getting your business card than any free gifts. Hats off to these people and the managers they work for too!