Your training strategy is ready. You have decided on the learning outcomes, the KPIs are all set, the curriculum is up to date, and the eLearning platform is intuitive and has all the tools you need. You have even done some research on the learning trends and what’s working, so that you know what learning methods and tools to use, focusing on flexibility and putting the learner at the center of the training process. However, months after the training, the outcomes are different from the ones you have previously established and the training has not met the expected results. So what happened?
Sometimes, no matter our efforts, a learning experience just does not deliver the expected results. There’s nothing one can do to make sure that the training is 100% successful, but there are some mistakes that can be avoided.
We have been working in the training industry for some years now, and it sometimes happens that even if a curriculum is discussed with a learning and development specialist beforehand, the trainees’ level of knowledge does not match that of the curriculum, which leads to a chaotic learning experience. Thus, one important aspect when organizing a training program is to be fully aware of what the learners already know, and to make sure that all participants have the same level of experience with the topic. Otherwise, the trainer might be either too easy, which leads to boredom and waste of time, or too difficult, and the trainees struggle to grasp the concepts, but they end up having huge skill gaps.
As Laura Lee Gentry, former vice president of talent and learning at Ultimate Software said, one should not be afraid to ask employees about what learning experience they find valuable, because if you truly listen to what they say, the learning program will definitely fit their needs.
Learning has to be a part of the workday, being integrated into the employees’ schedule. However, if the training happens to be scheduled during busy times, for example the end of the month for the financial industry, the employees will not be motivated to participate, and if they have to, they will most probably not pay attention to the information being delivered.
Thus, when planning a learning and development program, you have to talk to all the key players, be aware of the employees’ schedule, and make sure that the training does not overlap with something else that must be accomplished. So, to make sure that you schedule the training appropriately, you should make the most of communication, and talk to the managers beforehand.
If the learning is too passive, so merely information delivered in the format of a monologue, it is likely to fail. On the other hand, if it is too interactive, the learners might feel that it is too much from their side, and too little from the trainer’s side. Meredith Ferguson, managing director at DoSomething Strategic, clearly explained the situation, as it follows:
"Both ends of the spectrum turn off millennials and Gen Z because they've gone their entire lives seeing the tacky extremes: passively watching a video with no interaction is just as bad as starting off an interactive training with weird icebreakers and corny role-playing. Once you start training this way, they'll take it as a joke rather than a serious initiative, mostly because it looks like no effort was put in on the facilitator's end."
To wrap it up, we’d choose three words that might help you with planning a learning session without making the mistakes described above: communication, timing, and balance. Communicate with your learners and with their managers to make sure the training fits their needs and do not intervene with their busy schedules, and balance the training methods so that it consists of both theory and practice, both teaching and learning.
Some (final) thoughts
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