You’re in a hurry to implement a new product or service in your company, so you take your employees into a room to teach them about the new product or service or both and slam them with as much information as possible and in the words of Tim Gunn, you tell them to go out and “make it work!” Great strategy right? Wrong!
We have all experienced it at one time or another in our careers or in our companies where the implementation of a new product or service needs to happen right away or an employee must learn a new skill and so, they are provided with training. Which by the way is great, however if the training doesn’t appeal to all learning styles and does not allow employees to learn and immediately apply, you could have a disastrous implementation on your hands, which can ultimately have an effect on customer loyalty.
Some companies are so anxious to implement that new product or service that employee training becomes a data dump! Send an employee to three days of training for eight hours a day, or bring them into a room for 1 hour and pile on the information so that they become overwhelmed with information and never actually remember it or can even apply it. In other words, there is so much information given that the employee may only remember 30% of what they learned and of the 30%, they may only apply 12%. And, what’s your expectation for them to share and apply what they have learned?
Training and development are two separate and distinct entities yet we have the propensity to think that they are one in the same. Training is instructional, giving the rhyme, reason and skill building exercises in the moment; whereas development supports skills application and continually builds on developing the skills by placing the employee in experiential situations that have goals and targeted actions tied to it.
Okay, so I know what you’re saying right now, “My company does not have the time, resources, or patience to put training in place that follows such as structured path. I just need to get them into a room, tell them what I need to tell them and then they can go and do”. You could do that, however, you may run the risk of employees missing key information, learning application and continued skill building to perfect it. You also run the risk of employees making critical mistakes from the outset that have a negative impact on your customers.
So what should a company consider when providing training and development?
- Time frame for implementation of new product , service or new role
- How will the new skill will be used (i.e., new role, new system, etc.)?
- When can the new skill actually be applied?
- Learning Style
- Content Delivery
- Learning Application
Curriculum, Timelines and Application Readiness
When providing employee training it is necessary to build a curriculum around what your employees need to know and apply to their role in the new implementation or should I say change and when. Once you understand exactly what the employee needs to know and when, you can tailor the training segments to only focus on what they need right away. This also takes into consideration project timelines and impacts to customers. Start with the end in mind.
We worked with a large banking institution that needed to implement training for more than 700 employees in their home loan service division. They needed to go to a web-based platform that allowed their service units to access various systems at the click of a mouse rather than logging out of one system and into another. The change would allow faster access and reduce hold times by 60%. We started with the implementation end in mind and who needed access right away. For instance, managers and supervisors went through training first, then, tax, insurance, and loss mitigation departments, and so on.
We built a curriculum for each unit that spoke specifically to the systems and screens that they needed to use in their day-to-day and used the same experiential exercises and games for each population to drive learning and application. As each unit were set up with the new system, once employees finished the training, their desktop already had the new system in place and they could immediately begin using the new system and knowledge based on what they had just learned over two days in training. However, they also had the support of the management staff who could answer questions because they had had the training first so that they could provide post-training support. In addition, we provided each unit with desktop aids and online libraries to answer their Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) as well as continued web-based training to provide continuous support. Most importantly, is that there was no impact to service other than a decline in telephone hold times and increased service.
Learning Styles, Content Delivery & Learning Application
When you provide training for employees, take into consideration learning styles. Not every person is an auditory, visual or kinesthetic learner, so your training should appeal to all styles; see, hear, touch/apply.
Delivery of training should be energizing and engaging to the participant as well as the trainer or facilitator. Having someone stand up in front of a room full of people and regurgitate information for hours on end will be dry, boring and put people to sleep. Online learning can have the same negative impact if not carefully thought out to include engaging content and exercises. Adult learners require learning that is engaging, idea provoking, and provides experiential learning and application while supporting the retention of information that the mind can access later when needed. When the exercises appeal to the learner’s style, they can reflect upon it and apply it at will.
If your training is computer based, get the participants on the key board right away. If you are providing soft skills training, start with an exercise to spark thought, creativity and conversation.
Support learning by allowing employees to learn, apply, learn, and apply. Make sure that day-to-day activities support learning and stretch their intellect and experiences. You’ll find that employees will make minimal mistakes, you may find your next high-potential employee and there will be less negative impacts to your customers!