No More Lunch and Learns

I see it all over the place, and you might have it happening at your firm. Need to do some Revit training? Let’s have a Lunch and Learn! It’s great. Everyone brings their own food, and someone sits down with a laptop and projector and goes over some good tidbits about Revit. What could go wrong?

I obviously have a beef with this training format. I 100% believe that consistent in person training one way or another is critical for continued success with BIM projects and Revit specifically. For some reason, Revit (and other software) training gets relegated to happen over lunch time. This has to stop.

Sticking a training session during lunch tells the attendees two things: first that what you are about to learn isn’t important enough for a firm to spend time on it, and the second is that if you have to miss it, go ahead and miss it.

It is not uncommon for a production person to spend 5 or more hours a day in Revit. Having an hour long “come together” session once a month, or even every other week should not be too much to expect. The time invested in training is important, and learning how to use Revit effectively is crucial. Having to try to learn in between bites of sandwiches and growling stomachs lessens the perceived importance of what is being taught. The time necessary for two hours a month for training is negligible and tells the users that this is important enough to have a “real” meeting for it.

Beyond that, the lunch hour is the typical time (for U.S. folks anyway) to run errands and take care of personal business and to just get away from the desks and recharge. Lunch and Learn sessions take away from this potential personal time, and the sessions will usually lose out to an essential errand that just has to get done.

Pick a time during the workday, and put it on everyone’s calendar. Use that time to go over new procedures, changes in the template, or just cover an issue that a lot of people have come to you with recently. Make it a “real” meeting and that makes it important and a proper place to focus on what is an important task: learning to be more effective and productive in Revit.

7 thoughts on “No More Lunch and Learns

  1. Kat Smith says:

    I couldn’t agree more, and I’m so glad you put this in writing.

    I’ve worked with a few people who insisted that everyone attend the lunch & learn – and while I understand where they’re coming from (that it’s difficult in large organizations to get people together between client meetings and other work for the training) that’s no excuse, and always devalues/undermines the very things the company claims to stand for: it’s people, it’s projects, and it’s processes.

    Any suggestions on how you managed to covert the lunch & learn…enthusiasts?

  2. Jason Kunkel says:

    I wish I had a magic wand to convince everyone! Usually when I lay it out in terms of hours spent in the software by users it starts to click. Most of the “enthusiasts” (perfect term, btw) tend to be people who don’t use the software but once I explain just how critical it is to the work getting done a lightbulb usually starts to get turned on.

  3. lirva11 says:

    This kind of practice fosters an “always revved up” mode throughout the workday for sure–reduced downtime to cool your jets and wind down.

    L & L’s that I have been involved in–usually with me as the trainer–have had the added attraction of food provided (usually pizza). The free lunch softens the blow a bit. Your second contention that “you can give it a miss” is something that did not occur to me. Do you think that management always views it as an optional event? It may depend on how tight the culture is. If the announcement is framed with a “manadatory” tone, I don’t think that deprecation applies.

    I had a nagging feeling about management commitment to employee education and development when I was told “you can do the training but it will have to be a lunch and learn.” It was positioned like management was doing me a favor. After all, the initiative to have any training at all on this subject was a result of the employees clamoring for training–not a need identified by HR or other management folks. This was when I was doing my co-op term and the staff heard that I had some current education in the particular flavor of Microsoft Office that was being currently adopted.

    A bit of experience as a trainer on my previous resume meant I was the guy that was going to bring people up to speed. There was no other contingency for the staff; they would have to sink or swim if I hadn’t been in the building during that transition.

    Suggestions to convert? It’s difficult to tackle this one if management has a nickel and dime approach to running the organization and/or experiences a state of unconsciousness around employee development.

    In a previous life, before I was schooled in IT, I remember sticking it out for three years at one job where such an attitude was demonstrated by my technical director. When I handed in my resignation, I used the words “continue my professional development with another employer”. Not sure if it sank in or not.

  4. Jason Kunkel says:

    100% to all this – to focus on one part, the company culture is definitely part of the issue. I’m just shocked at how many companies find continuing education to be an addendum.

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