Communications and Training Manager at iSqFt
Originally posted on:
With the better part of two decades of training and development under my belt, I've learned a few things about it. For instance, I know that:
- The goal of training should be new skills or behavior modification; if it's about information it's called teaching.
- Typically, the most effective training is also fun.
- The credibility, demeanor, and presence of a trainer matters. A lot.
- Great training provides behaviors and skills and confirms that people can translate those things into action.
- Training, by itself--without reinforcement and follow-up--is nearly worthless.
- Most companies don't understand #5.
Imagine visiting a new city. You need to find a restaurant where you and a friend will reconnect. You ask the hotel clerk for directions and he tells you how to get there, turn by turn. You understood everything he said, and could visualize each step. But could you actually get to the restaurant?
Now imagine that the desk clerk asked you to write each step down. Would that help? Now imagine that, after you wrote everything down, the clerk asked you to repeat it all back. How’s your confidence level now?
All this stuff is covered in detail in Bloom’s Taxonomy of Cognitive Levels, which recognizes that there are differences between understanding something, being able to apply it, and then being able to act on it.
When companies ask for “training,” what they often mean is, “Get everyone in a room and tell them what they need to know.” That’s unfortunate because this only sets people up to fail. It’s giving them directions, onceand quickly, asking them if they have any questions about a process they have yet to walk through, and then setting them free.
Effective training, on the other hand, recognizes that that classroom time is just the beginning. It can serve as a foundation, and it allows you to say things like, “Remember when we talked about . . .” but it really is just the start.
The entire process should include these five steps:
- Explanation and/or exhibition
- Confirmation through questions
- Demonstration of ability
- Lather, rinse, repeat (as necessary)
That last step, Follow-through, could include objective measurements (KPIs) that prove ability or compliance, or it could be old fashioned observation. Either way, it shouldn’t be skipped because new behaviors typically require old behaviors to change, and that doesn’t happen quickly, easily, or automatically.
I applaud any company for recognizing the value of training, but all involved must also understand that it’s is a multi-step process. I don’t recommend training without a commitment to all five steps for the same reason I don’t recommend merely telling someone how to perform an appendectomy. First you learn, then you practice, then you get it.