How to Train Senior Company Executives

How to Train Senior Company Executives

If you’re a corporate trainer who routinely mentors new employees and provides refresher courses for long-time staff members, a day will come when you may have to train senior business executives, too.

If your corporation gives you such an assignment, it might surprise you how different it is to train them compared to regular employees and department managers.

Let’s take a closer look at why training senior executives is different; then we’ll look at two techniques to hook their interest.

Challenges of Training Senior Executives

  1. Short Attention Spans

Senior executives have short attention spans. To their credit, this is often an asset, not a liability. Every single day, a variety of experts in different fields brief them on a wide range of things. Consequently, they need to digest basic ideas quickly and then make decisions based on the key facts that they’ve just learned. They don’t have time for deep, slow, methodical thinking.

  1. Impatience

Senior executives want the facts and they want them quickly. They get quickly bored with someone who gets into the theory underpinning the facts. When you see them glancing at their cell phones, you know they consider the information or the anecdote you are sharing to be irrelevant to their work.

Techniques to Engage Your Audience

The first technique is to illustrate your big idea via examples. The second technique is to show why your training is highly relevant.

  1. Hook their interest

Suppose you are training senior executives in a biotechnology company and your task is to help them improve their decision-making ability about complicated technical issues.

You won’t hook their interest by simply launching into accelerated learning techniques on how to absorb information quickly and then following that up with the steps of a proven decision-making model.

Instead, you must engage their interest by talking about someone in their field who has experienced rapid success because of his or her ability to master complex information and develop relevant business projects based on his quick study.

You could, for example, talk about a pioneer in genomics like Jim Plante and describe the steps he took to create a molecular testing company that offers personalized genetic information to physicians in over 30 countries.

  1. Explain relevance

Senior executives are highly autonomous. They don’t like being told what to do or how to do things. So, if you are teaching them a particular management philosophy or thinking methodology, you have to explain why it is relevant to them, why they need to learn this information and why it can’t be outsourced.

In conclusion, you have to approach a class of senior executives in a different way to your regular teaching style. To be successful, you have to appreciate that they have short attention spans and tend to be impatient. Hook their attention by showing them what is possible if they follow your training and then explain why it’s relevant to their work.

Categories: Business

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