Since 2010 American business has been heavily focused on training; in 2013 alone $164 billion was spent on employee development by U.S. companies. The lightning-fast pace of the digital world often means that technology and information out-stride businesses, creating a constant need to keep a workforce that moves with the learning curve as time goes on.
Sophisticated training programs have obvious benefits for companies at all levels. They help new employees get their feet under them; they allow people looking to transition into other roles an opportunity to be groomed; and they allow long-time employees to expand their perspectives and push the envelope of their industries
Training is difficult for the same reasons that education is difficult: everyone learns differently. Your senior managers might not respond the same way to your training as new employees do, which means the experience has to be tailored. This can be tough, expensive work, so it’s important to make sure that the money you spend actually leads to positive and impactful changes in the ways that employees do their jobs.
To train employees most effectively, you (the person who wants the program developed) need to work backwards. Instead of thinking about what you’d teach, think about how you want the training to enable the employee. To do this, we have provided four objectives that can be used as a base. In other words, what “advice” would you give to a learner?
ENGAGEMENT. If you don’t care about the training, you won’t get anything out of the training.
Face the facts: for the average person it is not enjoyable to read a thick textbook of information about a new knowledge domain relevant to their work. So make your training program enjoyable. Can you teach skills using a game? Can you think of training programs that exercise employees both mentally and physically? Can you appeal to visual learners as well as those who prefer to learn by listening? Developing training programs that don’t feel like training is one way to enable trainee engagement.
FEEDBACK. Though it can feel embarrassing to be missing a crucial component of a lesson, don’t let your pride get in the way. Ask questions.
Sometimes it can be difficult to watch how your company’s culture grows organically within the context of every small team. Whether you like it or not, anxiety is a common side-effect of working collaboratively with others on a goal that ties to profit. Whatever training program you decide to use should come equipped with identifiable means to break these anxiety barriers and promote intellectual vulnerability where it might not readily exist on the day-to-day.
Statistics from education research suggest that students who participate during lessons score more highly and develop better time management skills. Likewise, those who ask for clarification or admit a lack of understanding during training are more likely to bring those skills forward into their work.
APPLICATION. Take what you learned and do something with it that day.
What’s the point of creating a training program if it is not directly equipping employees with new tools that they can use at work immediately? Make sure that the end result of any training curriculum is application. Hands-on work that makes a process easier or demonstrates a principle learned goes a long way in establishing the habit of applying new methods to old ideas.
ROTE. Take notes because it’s good for you.
According to a study conducted in 1970, learners retained information contained in their notes almost seven times as often as information they tried to remember without notes. Note-taking is a way to engage a lot of different senses, so your training programs should encourage it. Especially in today’s computer-oriented world, there is something refreshing and very beneficial about sitting at a desk and writing with a pen on paper.
What do you think?
Are training and continuing education important values of your business? How do you engage your employees most effectively to learn both inside and out of the workplace? Let us know in the comments below.