Dear Workforce When Should We Consider Using a Training Boot Camp

How do we know whether to conduct a training boot camp? What are the pros and cons of this approach?

September 7, 2011

Dear Camping Out:

Training boot camps that take people away from the office have become less common, especially as companies face increasing pressure to differentiate, innovate and boost productivity. However, this kind of immersive experience can be very effective in two scenarios: the initiation of new employees and communicating and preparing for major organizational change.

With a group of new employees, a boot camp environment helps retool their thinking, immersing them in the culture, values and priorities of the organization. Perhaps the company wants its salespeople to sell in a certain way, or its customer service professionals to exhibit specific behaviors. Boot camps can achieve a significant transformation by virtue of their design: removing people from the workplace and focusing them solely on the training experience.

In the case of major organizational change, the company's employees will need to have a deep understanding of what that change means, and will likely also need to apply themselves in fundamentally different ways at work. For example, if a company undergoes a strategic change that involves a new direction for its products and services, it's likely that its culture, goals, priorities and overall brand will be affected. Removing employees from the daily grind of work can help them focus on learning how the new corporate strategy affects their jobs, and on mastering the new skills they will need to be successful.

One of the great benefits of a well-conceived and well-orchestrated boot camp is that it can achieve the transformation mentioned above. People often leave boot camp looking at their jobs in a new way and ready to integrate what they've learned. What's more, participants tend to form bonds that transfer to the workplace and benefit the larger organization.

A final thought: As with any training initiative, reinforcement after the boot camp is critical. Employees are still the same people, despite the intense training experience. Managers need to observe them back at work, encourage them to apply what they learned, and recognize them for doing things differently in the prescribed way.

SOURCE: Craig Perrin,AchieveGlobal, Tampa, Florida, October 17, 2007.

LEARN MORE: The Workforce archive containsexamples of companies that have successfully used boot camps to bolster employee training.

The information contained in this article is intended to provide useful information on the topic covered, but should not be construed as legal advice or a legal opinion. Also remember that state laws may differ from the federal law.

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