When it comes to training—for new tech, security, HR, customer service, or other purposes—sharing the information with your team is only half the battle. The other half involves implementing that knowledge without completely derailing your team’s productivity.
Easier said than done, right?
For one thing, most people tend to resist change, even if change will help them be better. For another, some people see training as taking them away from more important work. (It’s one of the reasons some people hate security awareness training.)
If your team is training-averse, now’s the time to change your approach. Instead of asking a colleague for training advice, look at a few key principles and specific learning strategies that will make your training more engaging. Even better, these strategies will help your team make necessary changes.
Share your vision
Right from the get-go, frame the training properly. If your introduction has a “because management said so” tone, people will check out before you’ve really started.
If you want your team to take training seriously, frame it in terms of how the information concerns them and why it will benefit them. As you go along, connect the training directly to relevant experiences or common scenarios your team might face.
Learning strategy: depth of knowledge
Norman Webb’s depth of knowledge concept outlines 4 levels of understanding:
- Knowledge acquisition: learners can recall and reproduce the information shared.
- Knowledge application: learners can make informed decisions.
- Knowledge analysis: learners can draw conclusions and explain them logically.
- Knowledge augmentation: learners can think critically about concepts and make connections.
For a more worthwhile experience, remember these levels as you create the training. We’ve all been in training where knowledge acquisition is the goal. We memorize specific facts, test on the details, and likely forget everything two weeks later.
Instead, aim for a higher level of knowledge. Not every subject will require hard-core critical thinking skills. The key is to present the information in such a way that employees can engage more deeply with the material.
Keep it concise
Especially if you feel strongly about the subject, it can be easy to overshare. But remember that every hour spent in training is an hour you’re keeping your team from their regular responsibilities.
Out of respect for others’ time, keep training sessions direct and efficient. Doing so also helps employees perceive the training as achievable, which encourages them to take the training seriously. And they’ll likely appreciate your consideration of their time. Win-win-win!
Learning strategies: formative assessment and spaced practice
Formative assessment is the practice of gauging learners’ understanding as you go—instead of assessing their knowledge with a quiz or test at the end of the instruction. Not only does this strategy help people retain information, but it also allows for more effective training overall.
Tip: Instead of plowing through a preset training schedule, check in with your team along the way. If they quickly pick up on a concept, move on to the next concept.
Spaced practice involves arranging instruction over time. Especially for adults, learners better retain information if it’s parceled out over time—as opposed to the common “firehose” method, where instructors share a lot of details in a very short amount of time.
Tip: Don’t be afraid to break up training into smaller segments that you share over a period of days or even weeks. (More on this later.)
Most trainings are fairly straightforward—no frills, no bells, no whistles, just shared information. And while this might be a good formula for efficiency, it’s also a quick way to lose your team’s attention. We learn best when connecting to the presenter or to the content—so make sure to keep your training human.
Use some emotion, be genuine, and show your team that you care about them as people (not just as receptacles for learning). Bring in some humor or find another way to add a little personality
Learning strategy: collaborative instruction
One way to make your training more personable is to involve other people. This can be as simple as inviting discussion as part of the instruction, but there are other approaches as well.
For example, the jigsaw method is a great option if you’re training multiple teams.
The jigsaw method allows you to break up the information into segments; then, each team sends a representative to receive the instruction for each segment. Finally, representatives teach their respective teams what they’ve learned—hopefully with some unique personality and flair.
Offer some flexibility
As it turns out, adults don’t enjoy being treated like children 😉. So, telling your team how and when they’re supposed to receive training probably won’t go off well.
If possible, be flexible about training completion dates. No need to ignore deadlines entirely, but resist making your team stick to a hard-and-fast schedule. Similarly, offer training in multiple formats and let people choose.
Tip: When people can choose for themselves how (and when) to complete training, they will probably have a better attitude about the situation and be more invested in the outcome.
Learning strategies: spaced practice, interleaving, and dual coding
This is where spaced practice comes into play again. As mentioned earlier, people remember information better if it’s shared over time. For even better results, incorporate some interleaving.
Interleaving involves switching between topics while learning. Covering multiple subjects? Don’t try to cover one subject completely before moving to the next one. Instead, go back and forth between topics, building on each along the way.
Dual coding theory suggests that information is easier to retain when shared both visually and verbally. But because each person is unique, multimodal instruction lets people choose whatever works best for them. Some like in-person instruction, while others prefer to read through the material on their own.
Learn about learning strategies
Yes, change can be hard. But when training is impersonal and mandated, it’s harder than it needs to be.
For a more rewarding experience (for you and your team), take time to learn the ways people learn—then, put your knowledge to good use, creating more effective training. You might be surprised at how quickly your team picks up on the new info and puts it to work.
Need more specifics? Check out these additional ideas for making change happen:
- Change management and the 4 personalities
- Change management from the bottom up
- The neuroscience behind learning
Prefer more hands-on help?