Level Up Your Training!

by Valerie Delaney, Principal, Learning + Development

I recently decided to buy a rather expensive nutrient supplement for Rosie – office dog and best pal – in an effort to enhance her (also) rather expensive dog food that I suspect is not meeting all of her nutritional needs. The advertorial explained how a pet owner could “level up” regular dog food. The term “level up” intrigued me, and I wondered if it was new. Turns out it is only new to me!  I googled it, and found it used most predominately in the world of gaming, though there is also a Level Up movie and song and a new level-up take to my favorite chocolate bar!  Now, I see the expression everywhere! Synonyms include: advance, thrive, build, drive forward, cultivate, expand and transform.  I like transform best.

While I don’t know a thing about gaming, and would not know how to play anything let alone level up my game, I do know about adult learning and have a few ideas about how participants can level up the training they take. These ideas come from many years of observing participants, talking with them, and reading and reflecting on their feedback. Successful learners pay attention to three things, in their effort to expand and transform their learning.

Three things to consider if you want to level up your learning (with a list of 12 that follows).

  1. Be Intentional:

Consider if you really want to take the training.  This may sound strange, but there are people who do not. They register for a course because they think they “should”, their boss says they “should”, and/or someone else is paying for it. It will be very difficult for them to transform their learning – to experience the “ah ha” moments – in ways that will change how they think about, and undertake, the work they do. Life is too short for that. And, as a trainer, it is a challenge to support someone who doesn’t want to be present.

On the other hand, I love talking with people who are “just checking out our training”.  They ask great questions – sometimes, a lot of questions – and, that tells me they are serious about making a commitment to their training. They want to know all about it, in order to make sure it is right for them, before they sign up.  So, make sure you really want to want to take a particular training; then, be intentional about how you approach it. Give yourself permission to be present and to participate fully.  Focus on the material and the people learning with you. Even if virtual training makes it easier to multi task – resist the temptation.

  1. Be Self Aware:

This may sound strange, too, and relates to being intentional, but there are people who reply “do not agree” to our pre-course question asking if they have specific learning objectives for our iap2 Virtual Academies. How then will they measure the success of their training?  The same is true of engagement objectives; without them, how do we measure results?

Remember, the DELANEY formula for engagement objective structure is:

Level on the Spectrum + Who is being engaged + When = Objective

Then, we talk about outcomes to be achieved and outputs to be developed.

 So, an example of a learning objective that a participant might consider for our iap2 Planning course could go something like this: To collaborate with my P2 planning team colleagues to plan the very next engagement I lead.  An outcome could be to create confidence and support for an intentional, structured approach to engagement planning, and an output could be to work directly with my P2 planning team colleagues to develop a detailed set of engagement objectives for my engagement.  Wow!  By committing to a forward-looking learning objective, you have a very clear understanding of what you need from your training.  Without specific learning objectives, though, you can’t really hold anyone accountable for ensuring the training meets your needs.

The activation of the adult learning principles of self-direction and internal motivation require participants to take charge of their learning. This starts with identifying clearly how they hope the training will change their attitudes, understanding and actions.

  1. Be Ninja-like:

I could have said: Activate! Take it all in; participate wildly; go beyond your comfort zone; review what you’ve learned; anticipate what is coming next; conquer the engagement objectives challenge hill; do the self-directed learning exercises; be “the one” to ask the tricky question; take notes, highlight text, and doodle; do what you need to do to learn.  Don’t wait for someone to tell you to read ahead; do it, and be the smartest person for it! Share your experiences freely and appreciate those of others. Ask for feedback; give feedback – especially during the session, so you get what you need from the training.

That’s how we learn.  That’s how we expand and transform.  That’s how we level up our learning.

See you in class and all the best!


12 Ideas to Help You Level Up Your Training

  1. Be Intentional – Ask yourself how this training will help you. Keep checking in with yourself and the trainer to make sure you are getting what you need.
  2. Be Self-Aware – ENTER INTO THE DISCUSSION ENTHUSIASTICALLY. The training is yours – a chance to learn what you need to learn and to say what you think. SAY IT!
  3. Be Ninja-like – Do what you need to do to learn. Take notes, highlight text, draw diagrams, play with doodle toys – dance!
  4. Give yourself permission to be present and prompt. Clear the deck.
  5. Ask questions. Don’t let the discussion get away from you. If you don’t understand, say so.
  6. Keep CONFIDENCES and assume others will, too.
  7. Share experiences and learnings freely. Appreciate those of others.
  8. Listen generously and critically to others. Try to understand the other person’s viewpoint. Remember, on almost every question, there is more than one point of view.
  9. Come to each day’s trainings with questions in mind, or with questions and insights you have had from the previous day’s material. Read ahead!
  10. Provide constructive FEEDBACK and RECEIVE it appropriately.
  11. Check in with your manager and colleagues after the training to share what you have learned and to get support so you can apply new skills.
  12. Have fun!