We all know that one of the main aims of training is to improve the performance of employees and the company that they work for. That means that we want the trainee’s behaviour in the workplace to change positively as a result of the course that they’ve completed.
However, all of us have experienced training that didn’t adequately prepare us for tasks. We didn’t benefit from it and we can only remember useless snippets of information about monkeys on branches. So how can you make training that has a real and practical impact on the trainee and the company’s bottom line?
1. Set practical objectives: What should the trainee be able to DO at the end of the module?
Training isn’t about delivering information, it’s about equipping the trainee with the skills and techniques that they need in order do their job effectively, whether it’s operating machinery or leading a team.
Goals that begin with ‘The user will know…’ need to be replaced. Ask the client for more information as some help is often required to focus and refine the objectives from what the client thinks they need to what is actually needed. What is the practical action that the trainee needs to be able to do as a result of this? Is it to operate machinery safely and effectively? Is it to lead a team to meet tight deadlines? What do they need to know in order to accomplish these actions?
Once you have answers you can reframe the objective as ‘The user will be able to…’ followed by an action. So instead of planning training to meet an impractical knowledge-based objective, it is vital that we plan training to meet a tangible action-based objective.
2. Don’t be like Ty Pennington
If you’ve never watched Extreme Makeover: Home Edition then a) you clearly need to get out less and watch it and b) you have no idea that Ty Pennington is the presenter of the show. The concept is that a worthy family are nominated for a free home ‘makeover’ which usually involves knocking down the entire house and rebuilding it from scratch within 7 days while they are whisked away on holiday. The family are kept in the dark the entire time about what the house will look like outside and inside.
While this makes for good viewing, the same approach shouldn’t be adopted when producing online training for a client. It’s vital that they are part of the development process.
In addition to agreeing upon objectives and training solutions to business problems before beginning, it pays to keep the client in the loop throughout the design and build process. Asking the client for input and approval at the end of each stage is a key way of ensuring that the training is relevant and achieves what the client needs.
3. Hold a funeral for Powerpoint
I was reading an article recently from a professional in the training industry about e-learning. She spoke about her experiences with e-learning, how she found it underwhelming, not that interesting and, ultimately, only really useful for delivering very simple information to employees.
Now I’m all for learning from criticism, because one of the many ways to grow as an individual or a company is to allow negative feedback to shape us positively. The only difference in this instance was that I agreed with her wholeheartedly. The type of e-learning that she described was so boring it sounded like it was only minutely more beneficial than no training at all. The author described text-filled Powerpoint presentations being put online with a voiceover. To be honest, I don’t even count that as online training, that’s simply putting training online.
Real online training and learning is the result of a creative process that involves the instructional designer completely reconceptualising, refining and focussing courses to produce online experiences that optimise the learning of simple and complex skills online. This is done by producing electrifying training that’s engaging, modern, interesting and challenging.
4. Don’t save real life for real life
If you want to teach skills that can be practically applied to daily life at work, then exploring these skills out of context is counter-productive. Need your sales staff to be able to turn objections into sales? Need your customer service staff to be able to deal with complaints excellently? Then use online scenarios where the user is put in a variety of situations whereby they need to select the best way of handling the situation and shown the consequences of their decisions.
Practice doesn’t have to wait for the real world. Instead of the good old knowledge checker quiz, write a scenario which tests the trainee’s abilities in context.
5. Be ruthless with content
Who's the most ruthless person you can think of? Darth Vader? Hannibal Lecter? Simon Cowell?Whoever it is you should try and emulate them when designing the course.
The only content that makes it into the module should be vital for equipping the trainee with the desired skills in an absorbing and stimulating way. None of this “They should probably know the names, pets, hobbies and political affiliations of every single one of our senior management team” or "I think that a cute gif of a jumping kangaroo would make it more interesting". Whether it's text, graphics, video or audio, only the relevant content should be added (you can find out more about this here).
If you take our advice into consideration then you'll see the tangible impact of your training increase for both your trainees and your business.