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Making Training Effective

Training is most effective when utilized as a method of supervision and management. Training is much less effective when it is an activity done on a set schedule or only done in an attempt to solve a problem or correct a behavior. Training should be a mindset that guides how you approach and interact with staff, customers and others, whose behavior or attitude you want to influence.

For training to be effective on a long term basis it must be ongoing and reinforced with follow up refresher exercises that keep the information easily accessible in the mind of the learner. Training should start before an employee is hired and continue indefinitely with each and every contact or interaction you have with individual.

Why Training is needed:
Training is the best and only realistic option a supervisor, manager or business owner has when it comes to conveying the information and skills, employees need to correctly perform their assigned tasks. You can only pay so much in wages. Threatening and intimidation is destructive. Discipline is negative and should only be used as a last resort, which bring us back to training as the best and most realistic option when it comes to influencing the behavior of others.

Everybody Needs Training:
You can’t expect others to do what you want, if you don’t make sure they know what you want done, this often includes, when you want it done, how you want it done and why they should do it. Training removes the questions and gives people the answers they need to perform their assigned tasks correctly. When you provide training, at least you know, a person’s failure to perform isn’t because they didn’t know the what, when, why and how of the assigned task. They made the decision to not do the work as instructed.

Let me be clear, supervisors, leads, manager, salespeople, owners, you and the customer all need and will benefit from training.

A New Model for Learning
Most people think of training as butts in chairs, probably because most of us spent a good 12 to 15 years learning that way. The reality is that for training to be truly effective on the job, with today’s workers, it has to be done differently. In fact, the less time employees spend sitting down listening to someone talk or watching a PowerPoint, the more effective the training will be. Just about everything in the world around us has changed, and how we approach training needs to change too.

The most effective training is interactive. One of the reasons is that it prevents attendees from mentally leaving the room or doing something else such as texting, email or searching the Internet. When learners have to participate by thinking, talking, reading, writing, or physically doing something, it is difficult for them to think or do something else. A very high percentage of learners remain mentally engaged when actively participating in a training session.

An instructor’s goal is to facilitate a learning experience for the participant and when the mind is fully engaged in the process, the more learning that’s going to take place. Keeping learners engaged is a challenge for every instructor and it’s not easy to do. In fact, it is much easier for an instructor to flap his or her lips (talk or lecture) or show PPT or video and let attendees read the words on the screen than it is to plan and execute interactive learning. The problem with talk and PPT is that it’s boring attendees and it allows or even encourages the mind to wander off to anyplace but where the body is located, and when this happens, learning stops.

The greatest challenge of conducting blended interactive instruction is that takes a lot of time and effort on the part of the instructor to plan for and execute. However, the extra effort is well worth it and with a little practice, you will get the hang of it and it won’t be long before you master the concept and wouldn’t think of conducting any other type of training.

What is Blended Learning?
Blended learning involves the use of different instructional techniques. This can include such things as hand on exercises, demonstrations, printed materials, exams, games, PPT, video, photos, props, handouts, question and answer sessions, group and team exercises, and limited lecture or talk. The options of what you can do are basically endless. One constant is that you break up the learning into 10 -15 minute sessions, and plan in interactions and variety, with far less reliance on lecture, PPT and videos. When planning this type of training, think less about what you are going to say and place far more emphasis on what you are going to have the learner(s) doing during the training session. It’s not about you and your presentation; it’s about what you will have the students doing during each short period of the training session in order to learn the skills and information they need to perform their job to the best of their ability.

What doesn’t work?
Nothing kills learning faster than long lectures and endless PPT or videos.

Adding the Magic
Successful and effective training is not just about the information you convey to the learner or even about how it is presented. The real challenge is getting the learner to retain and use the information and skills that have been taught. The true test of effective training is whether or not the skills and information are not only learned, but used.

An effective instructor helps the learner understand the value and importance of using the newly learned skills and information. The best way to accomplish this is to help the learner understand the personal benefits they will receive by using the newly taught information or skills. Some time is as easy as: you won’t get hurt; it will save a life, you’ll make more money, or this information or skill will provide you with opportunities for growth and advancement. The instructor has to be able to help the learner answer the question: How can I get what I want, by doing what the employers or instructor is asking me to do. Some learners can easily see the connection and will make the needed personal commitment to use what they have learned; others will need coaching or further encouragement in order to grasp how this will applies to them. And some are simply not interested or willing to make that connection or commitment needed and they will not use what has been taught or learned. For basically everyone, cleaning and their job or business is what they do to get what they want and need. If you as an instructor can help the learner see the connection between the information and the personal benefit to them or their family, and then make a personal commitment to make it happen, you have succeeded in your job as an instructor.

Making Training Stick:
For training to be effective on a long term basis, it must be refreshed in the mind of the learner on a regular basis. If this is not done, the information and skills learned l will be filed away deep in the mind as unimportant information and over time forgotten and much less likely to be remembered or used.

One way to burn information into the forefront of the mind, is to use the 2, 2, 2 follow up process.

Two days after instruction, discuss the key points of what you want remembered and why it’s important for the learned to use the information or skill. Think personal benefits, not just to the company.

Two weeks after the instruction, again discuss and ask the learner to tell you some of the important information or key points they learned about the subject and why it is important to use or know the information or skill on the job. Again, how is and has it been useful to them since the training.

Two Months after the instruction again discuss and ask the learner to give you some examples of how they have used and benefited from using the skill or information that they learned in the training session.

Sure, this take some time on your part, but if you want the training and skills to stick and be used, you have to help the learner understand and be able to recall the importance and value of the information or skills they learned. If you don’t do this part of the learning process, the information will not stick and you have wasted all the time, effort and cost of providing the training.