Selecting interventions, or ‘workshops’, is hard, particularly for your senior management. If you are running a business, chances are, you have been through this dilemma.Return on time, not investment: For senior management, the cost of a workshop is measured not in money but in time. Even a 6-figure investment pales in comparison with three days of a VP’s time and energy. This makes good selection crucial.In the course of our business, we have been fortunate to know many clients who have dealt with this effectively. Based on their experiences, we decided to put together a 7-point guide to help you select workshops that suit.
- Is it relevant to the participants? From operational effectiveness for mid-level managers, to cross-functional awareness and strategy formulation for business leaders, managers at different levels may have distinct workshop needs. Select one that fits your participant profile. An easy way to do this is to look for testimonials and reviews from similar people.
- Is it close to real-world application? Your managers could use a toolkit right now - meaning the closer a workshop comes to real-world application, the better. Also, a quick adoption period ensures you can see returns on your investment and link them back to the source. Workshops that let your people practice the concepts are best; but in general, see that the concepts relate to real-world application in your line of business.
- Is it ‘serious’? Any intervention is an interruption to daily targets and urgent work - it has to overcome the I-had-better-things-to-do effect. A loosely-structured affair is thus a recipe for frustration. Check if the workshop you select has the intensity to fully utilize their valuable time.
- Can it sustain interest? The best way to ingrain a concept is to get participants excited about it. Your managers are accomplished in their roles and experts in your business - it takes a lot for a workshop to engage them. Select one which engages participants by design.
- Pre and post work: Interventions, particularly off-site ones, need to be supported by pre and post work - or they might never translate back to behaviour at the workplace. Good pre-work should ensure participants look forward to the workshop, while post-work should track application of concepts learnt.
- Levels of insights: A good workshop should provide both of what we call ‘frameworks and cheat sheets’ -
- immediately-implementable thumb-rules, tips and tactics; as well as
- conceptual understanding and frameworks to build your own long-term solutions.
- Relevant peer group? In case you’re looking for an open workshop (where your leaders can work-with/gain-from peers from other companies as well), check if the peer group suits you - while industry or function-specific groups bring in deeper understanding, more diverse groups open your managers to different perspectives and an appreciation of the big picture.
A downloadable checklist (for that pin-up on your cubicle wall) is also available here.