So why is money being wasted on training?

Sending people on training courses is simple; making sure they don’t forget what they have learnt and apply it in their jobs is a tad trickier. I am not going to give you all the answers – mainly because I don’t have them – but what I am going to suggest will help to ensure your investment in learning and development translates into business results.

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How people learn

Chances are you already know but let me add a few of my own thoughts on this. Asking people to change the way they do things can make people anxious. girl and an ipad

“Why what’s wrong with what I am doing now”? “Is this some sort of test”? “Don’t they think I do a good job”? Just telling someone to attend a training course can send out all the wrong messages. Staff need support before during and after training.

When where staff learn

Formal training that’s conducted during business hours is not only time consuming but also removes that person from the day job incurring additional expense. Plus chances are they will be thinking about the backlog of work that’s building up which means they will not be 100% focused on the learning.

So why not learning that fits people’s lifestyle? By which I mean available 24 7 available when and where it’s needed and in a format that people are comfortable with? Some of the most popular programmes on TV right now are cooking and gardening. Why, because people find it an entertaining way to learn. They can record the shows or stand in the kitchen with a tablet watching and learning while they try a new meal. TV educates entertains and engages – well sometimes.

What and why people learn.

I hate to say it but it really does come down to what’s in this for me or my team? Without that simple explanation at the start people won’t see its value and won’t engage with it. By all means force feed people learning but you might as well just set fire to your money. People need to see learning as a positive choice. I did this course and good things happened. My job became easier. I got promoted after six months as a result. Pre and post learning is the key.

People want to know. “Why we would like you to do this course and how we think you will benefit. We will support you during the course and ensure you are rewarded after for your efforts”. Make it clear that learning is linked to good things happening.

Think Contextually

A recent survey asked people if they believed the learning and development they received was actually relevant to their job and personal progress within the organisation. More than half answered maybe and a large proportion of those did not think it was linked at all! That’s money wasted.

The more relevant the learning the more motivated people will be to learn. Think about just in time learning. Small amounts of learning as and when required. “Teachable moments” if you will. Put those in a person’s pocket and you have started the embedding process.

Contextualise the content.

It’s an often used phrase but bring learning to life. Imagine how more powerful learning is when personalised with images of the workplace. Lets show customer service training at a supermarket till not in a class room.

Add the customer from hell and how to deal with them. Now that’s something anyone working on a checkout will get and engage with. Bite sized chunks delivered when convenient for people that will make them smile. Learning that can be seen in context is a very powerful way to embed the learning. Plus it demonstrates that a business cares enough about its employees to do things differently and put them first by making it convenient for them. Add case studies and scenarios in fact include actual business projects.

People like to be in control so let them learn when it suits them and make it fun. That’s a business that cares about people.

Make it social

It’s never been easier or more cost effective to make sharing knowledge a breeze. Many especially young people respond very well to face book pages, tweets and instant messaging. Encouraging people to share the learning is a good thing. People will naturally form supportive communities for each other which will lead to a feeling of shared learning and being on a journey together with others.

This is simple and cost effective to do and can be achieved on a course by course basis that will ensure the community is totally focused on that element of learning. At some point an employee will leave and your learning investment will walk out the door with them.

By including the social aspect you are capturing, storing and cataloguing shared knowledge in the form of an online repository. The knowledge is embedded in the organisation not in the individual and will be of value for years to come.

Be smart

I mentioned that TV is a great teacher. People now have a TV in their pocket. It’s called a smart phone or tablet. We are a mobile generation so why make people go to learning? Surely it makes sense for the learning to come to them. TV is the most powerful communication tool on the planet and for the first time its available to anyone thanks to the internet and mobile devices.

There are several advantages to be had here. No matter how good a teacher is they will have off days. What if they were always on top form? Do it once do it right and then use it over and over again. E learning has its place but in the main its existing content presented in a fairly dull way. Engaging with a cartoon character, unless it’s Wiley Coyote, is a big ask. People are more receptive to people they trust or others that have had the very experience they are going through. Nothing facilitates that engagement like TV.

Traditional training is out of date as soon as it’s delivered. Being able to update individual modules in the learning path as and when required solves this problem instantly. Learning and development undertaken in this way becomes elegant, cost effective and a lifestyle choice for people. In a word better.

So we arrive at embedding

Ask anyone that has ever taken a traditional course and they will tell you they could have done it in half the time. Traditional training expands to fill the time allotted to it in order to justify the cost.

Research suggests that 90% of any learning will be forgotten inside six months and that’s why one off training is a waste of time. Take bread making. I started making bread about five years ago and followed the recipe meticulously for ages. Then as I got more comfortable with it I stopped needing to read the recipe. Today I have gone freelance and enjoy nothing more than making it up as I go along.

I started by learning the basics, embedded the learning by doing and improved on the original learning and grew confident in what I was doing. I know you have had a similar experience.

So this is my learning and development vision. Hand holding a Social Media 3d Sphere

Create a modular course and turn it into bite sized chunks of that are fun with learning points along the way to embed the learning. Make the content relevant to the end user by positioning the learning in their environment. Use colleagues’ experiences to engage and help embed the key messages. Make it available 24 7 and deliver it in a TV style right into people’s hands via a mobile device.

Follow up the initial learning investment monthly by delivering short refresher courses that either embed or expand what has been learnt. These would be sent automatically and be presented by the same teacher thus building on the student teacher student relationship.

Add social media as a learning environment where knowledge can be learnt and best practise can be promoted. The other advantage of creating a learning community is you have people at the sharp end solving problems a business probably would never have know existed without this engagement.

Store and catalogue these real life experiences and you have an ever expanding library that will be valuable for years.
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