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Wednesday, 03 December 2014 05:13

Lunch and Learn Programs – Quick and Valuable

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Lunch and Learn Programs – Quick and Valuable

All organizations should invest in improving employee’s skills and knowledge. Along with enhancing and improving their knowledge it also develops employee loyalty. This loyalty and appreciation for the training investment has a positive outcome for employer and employee. Typically this yields increased productivity which is a benefit for both parties.

There are many types of training: classroom training, virtual training and also informal training between colleagues sharing knowledge and experience. The company commitment does not need to be very expensive but can be very valuable through the use of Lunch and Learn programs. Not only can these programs, when managed properly, be beneficial to learn new skills it can also be a powerful tool for culture change initiatives.

The Basics

Lunch and learn programs are a way to provide learning opportunities to your group (or to the entire organization). To be effective, they should be simple, easy beauty of them is that they are relatively easy to put on and relatively painless for people to attend. The basics are as follows:

Pick a topic and instructor. Topics should be relevant to the workplace or the culture of the company. An optimal approach is to gather ideas of topics from the employees and then find someone from within the company, who has expertise in that area. It is not necessary to hire someone from outside the company. To spice things up, you could invite an expert in the field and they may be willing to share their knowledge for free or by offering them lunch. That is what the session is called after all. Topics can be diverse, including technical topics for the industry, writing skills, management skills, etc. You can even have people from your business clients come in and tell your group more about they do.  

Put together the agenda and material. There are many types of presentation materials that can be used, depending on the subject. From 20 (or less) PowerPoint slides to interactive screen demonstrations or even as simple as a few poster boards with graphics. In fact, the more creative the materials will make the presentation more engaging and more memorable. The session could even be as simple as a round-table discussion, without much formal preparation ahead of time.

Schedule the time and put on the session. It is important to ensure that the presentation portion be done in 45 minutes. This can allow for some discussion or if the topic is interesting enough for a follow up then the participants can brainstorm additional areas of the topic that can be explored. As the name implies, the session is scheduled during lunch time; but could be done prior to the start of the business day or even afterwards. Prior to beginning the session leave some time for people to get their lunch. Some companies may even provide lunch as an incentive for people to attend. The sessions are designed to be informal. You actually want to have their lunchand eat it during the session.

A lot of good can come from a lunch and learn program

Lunch and learn is a program that has many benefits for the staff, and no obvious negatives. It’s not a free lunch, but it is a low-risk (if not a risk-free) lunch.

They provide learning opportunities. A lunch and learn program can provide ongoing learning opportunities. To make them valuable on an ongoing basis try to schedule them monthly if possible. They should be designed for knowledge sharing and making it informal allows easier transfer. Although not considered skill improvement training since they are very short, it is a venue to help staff to become more knowledgeable and expose them to new ideas and awareness.

They are inexpensive. One of the main intentions for these sessions is low or no cost Employees are investing time in creating the presentation and time of the employees to attend

There is little time commitment. Since the session is designed to overlap with lunch tii should minimizes any downtime. Much of the staff takes the lunch hour off anyway. This is a way to take advantage of this time to have lunch and to learn something at the same time.

They provide exposure for the instructor. These sessions are not only good for the attendees but also provide employees an opportunity to “show off” some of their expertise and skills Hosting a lunch and learn session allows the instructor to gain some exposure among his/her peers and managers. It also allows him/her to practice speaking in front of a group.

Team building. There is a terrific opportunity for the team or groups to get together on a regular basis outside of the regular workday activities. This allows for more bonding and team building. Having the team get together in these types of informal settings allows them to know each other better and builds teamwork and camaraderie in the work environment. 

What’s the catch?

Not much of one! It is shouldn’t be a huge monetary investment and companies can leverage in house knowledge. It provides a venue for skill and teamwork building. However, it is very important to make sure it is presented well. It would be a good idea to develop some guidelines on materials, structure of the presentation and, most importantly, solid preparation. You don’t want people who attend feel they have wasted their time. Although in most cases, employees tend to be more lenient and empathetic to the plight of the instructor since they know that the instructor is one of their own and doing the best he/she can.

Summary

Regularly scheduled lunch and learn programs are excellent opportunities to provide quick and valuable learning events for your staff. Even though they are informal they provide many benefits in knowledge sharing and team building. A program is relatively easy to set up and sustain. Once an organization gets involved there could be an endless supply of relevant topics!



At TenStep we are dedicated to helping organizations achieve their goals and strategies through the successful execution of critical business projects. We provide training, consulting and products for organizations to help them set up an environment where projects are successful. This includes help with strategic planning, portfolio management, program / project management, Project Management Offices (PMOs) and project lifecycles. For more information, visit www.TenStep.com or contact us at admin@TenStep.com.



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