One of the most fun and exciting things about being a small business consultant was the training I got to provide clients, both the sessions I developed and those I facilitated from the course Managing and Supervising for Productivity. I have been a trainer since high school and then as an instructor electronic warfare officer in the U.S. Air Force followed by a wide variety of training sessions and speeches.
When developing effective employee training, the most interesting thing is to remember that people learn best when they’ve become mentally, and ideally, emotionally engaged. I find that what we recall best from a training session is what we have said ourselves.
The Following Tips Will Make Your Employee Training More Effective:
– Use stories
– Get them engaged in the training
Stories engage the imagination. Compare remembering a favorite movie from three months ago to lists you had to memorize in college. How many ‘facts’ did you remember three months later? You may not recall everything about the movie, but I bet it’s more than you do from that class unless you somehow interacted with the material.
Get Them Engaged in the Training
This point may be more important even that the stories. Get them to tell you what they are taking away from the lesson as a review of what you covered.
Classic Steps for a Speaker (or a Trainer)
– Tell them what you are going to tell them
– Tell them what you are telling them
– Tell them what you told them*
* This review step is the most crucial step for retention. Instead of telling them, ask them what they recall. By getting them to tell you what you covered, they’ll remember better than any other way because people remember best what they personally say. Additionally, when you ask them what they got out of the training, their minds will review the training session further locking it in.
Additional Steps to Get Them Engaged in Your Training
– Ask for questions
– Ask questions and then wait for them to think about it
– When asking questions, ask for volunteers to describe what they think the answer is (don’t put people on the spot who aren’t ready to contribute publicly)
– Use shocking facts or humor or stories to engage them mentally
– For important points, instruct them to write this next part down, tell them what you want them to write down, then repeat is so they have a chance to correct their notes or to finish them.
– Ask them what they are going to implement this next week
– Whenever possible, give hands on training – having them do something related to the training means they will be more likely to remember next time
Key Tips for Trainers
– Have patience as people have different learning styles** and different learning speeds
– Follow up
– Monitor results
– Acknowledge successes
– Reward the behavior you want followed
**Some people learn best by reading and viewing, others by hearing and others by doing something physical, like taking notes or doing a task on the computer or knitting.
For any program to be effective, executives must be fully behind it. Employees don’t trust new programs management rolls out, especially in major corporations. They call them “the flavor of the month” plans. Instead of getting all excited about it and committing lots of energy into doing it, wait a month and the new plan will be announced and this one forgotten.
Training is one of the best ways to improve productivity and therefore profitability. There are some things you can do as a trainer to improve how effective your small business’s employee training is. Use stories and actively seek to get them engaged in the training. You can do this with questions, activities and asking for takeaways. People will enjoy the training and have greater retention of what you taught them thereby making it more effective employee training.