“We never allowed a bad training session. What you see in training manifests itself on the game field. So every training session was about quality. We didn’t allow a lack of focus. It was about intensity, concentration, speed, and a high level of performance. That, we hoped, made our players improve with each session.”
-Sir Alex Ferguson
Anyone familiar to football (soccer) will know that Sir Alex Ferguson is regarded as one of the greatest football managers of all time. In his 26 years as Manchester United’s manager, he was able to build and rebuild teams that consistently performed at the highest level. While I’m in no way a fan of Manchester United, I can’t help but admire what he’s done for the club. His ability to motivate his team and his devotion to focused, intense, high-quality training meant his teams were always prepared to win.
In the corporate training world, the ability to train, build and rebuild teams that consistently perform is the ultimate goal of any instructor, manager, or leader. So what can we learn from Sir Alex’s philosophy? Well, just like Alex Ferguson, corporate trainings are already meticulously designed and engineered to improve the employees with each session. They are timed to run for a certain amount of time, and they’re typically focused around one core topic. However, what can be lacking isn’t the quality of the plan, but instead, the delivery of and participation in the training.
To explain what I mean by that we must look again to the sports world. In sports, the key components of an effective training program are outlined using the acronym F.I.T.T. These stand for:
F – Frequency
I – Intensity
T – Time
T – Type
While the Frequency (how often training takes place), Time (how long it will last) and the Type of training are planned out and executed flawlessly, it’s typically the intensity of the training that’s missing. Alex Ferguson knew the importance of intense training and would guard against complacency. Unfortunately, in corporate training, it’s also the case that this is usually the missing ingredient. Sessions are planned to the very minute, but when it comes to the intensity of a training session there is usually something missing.
Think about the last time you went to or delivered a training session and ask yourself:
Did I push myself or your participants?
Did I fully engage with the scenarios and role-plays?
Was the testing stringent?
Did it adequately prepare me or my participants for the real life situations?
Unless you answered yes to all the above, there’s room for improvement in your level of training intensity. Getting a training session perfect is near impossible; however, the higher the level of intensity and the closer we can get it to a real life situation, the more valuable it will be.
As Sir Alex said, “what you see in training manifests itself on the field.” And as an old coach of mine used to say, “the harder we train the easier the games will be.” Is corporate training any different?
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