It’s simple, employees desire opportunities. Learning and development provide opportunities for employees to gain skills, acquire positive behaviors, grow knowledge, and become empowered in their jobs. Effective training improves retention as employees feel that they can learn and grow in their roles. To be effective, training initiatives must clearly define goals and objectives and communicate those to participants.
Effective training is manageable, memorable, and measurable and starts before the training session begins. The design and development of the learning program require time and evaluation. Obstacles to effective training must be anticipated. Goals and competencies must be established before content can be created. Why is the training important? Who is the audience? What is the desired result? How will the results be measured? What is the best format to use? Does the content meet the goals and adjectives? Will the content and method of implementation achieve the desired result? These questions should be repeatedly addressed in the development process. After delivery, it is important to evaluate the training from a presentation standpoint and receive feedback from participants. Review the feedback, document results, and strive to improve the next time. It should be a learning and development cycle that does not stop.
Training can rarely be thrown together and effective without careful development, addressing the questions above. The halfhearted approach will be recognized by the participant. Training also should not be like drinking from the firehose. There must be a reasonable schedule with time to digest the content. We’ve all sat through marathon learning sessions and walked away overwhelmed, retaining virtually nothing. A jam-packed agenda with no opportunities to digest content is counterproductive. Training sessions have to be manageable. Breaking content into chunks with breaks for both discussion and pause is essential.
Participants need REAL application of content and interact/reflect on it for the content to “stick.” Interactive game-based learning isn’t just more interesting and engaging; it works. Blended learning strategies offer a show, do, review approach. The participant engages multiple senses and therefore increases content retention. In-person training should have interactive components as well. Show/Do/Review makes training memorable.
Learners need to be engaged and connect learning to their day-to-day life. Building engagement involves building interest, identifying how to make the learning content relevant, and delivering content in a way that is appealing and promotes retention. If well executed, the learning becomes authentic and important to the participant. They are then motivated to engage, seek further knowledge, and implement what they have learned.
Learning must be measurable. If you can’t or won’t measure effectiveness, then why bother? Just to say it is done? So often, this is the case, and employees know it, and training completion becomes just another box to check, leading to inattention and no retention. Without measurability, there is no way to see what works and what does not. What may be fun and engaging may not solve the problem.
What makes training effective? Essentially, the little things add up. A strong, well-organized learning program with sound principles and objectives is ineffective if the environment is uncomfortable and riddled with distractions. Less value will be taken away if learners participate strictly to check a box. Negativity breeds negativity. If training is poorly planned and poorly executed, it is a waste of time for everyone involved. The training environment must be conducive to learning. Basic human needs must be considered. Snacks and breaks are important. Goals, objectives, and implementation strategy work in tandem with participants and place to build effective training.