The most elaborate, expensive, out-of-this-world training programs won’t mean squat if employees can’t apply what they learn in everyday workplace situations. You need to invest in practical training solutions that make it possible for employees to immediately begin taking their performance to the next level.
Too often, training is nothing more than exposure to new information, where employees sit down for a lecture but mentally check out. They hear an instructor speaking but aren’t really listening, so they don’t learn much, and they find it difficult to apply what they heard.
As you assess options for your staff, look for these critical components of practical training solutions—that actually work.
A Balance of Knowledge and Skill Building
Knowledge is power, of course. However, effective training couples knowledge with skill to achieve full competency, meaning that employees will know what to do and how to go about doing it. For example, telling employees how to do a task is providing them knowledge. Having them actually do the task until they can execute it on their own is providing them with a skill.
Knowledge and skill are equally important and every practical training solution should offer employees opportunities to gain information—and put that information to use with hands-on activities.
The Training Should Fill a Need
Many companies mandate corporate-wide training initiatives, where everyone is required to participate—even if the training doesn’t apply specifically to each person’s job. That is often a waste of time. For training to be meaningful, it must be relevant to each participant and it must align with the individual’s responsibilities and job requirements.
Some training topics, such as communication, teamwork and time management will benefit everyone in your organization, while job-specific or certain technical training won’t. Work with your managers or team leaders to pinpoint employees’ training needs, and then work to fill those skill and knowledge gaps.
The Purpose of the Training is Obvious
Employees should immediately understand how the training applies to the job—and how implementing what they learn will benefit them, the team and the organization. If those benefits don’t jump out at employees, they won’t buy into the process.
The Training Should Be Detailed
Practical training solutions offer employees enough information so that they can deal with specific situations at work. Each lesson should offer enough detail that participants know exactly how to handle a similar situation when it arises. For example, a customer service course should tell employees specifically how to talk to an irate customer.
Results are Measurable
For training to be truly effective, you must be able to test the knowledge and skills employees gain. So whether that is literal (e.g., requiring employees to take a quiz after each training session) or not so literal (e.g., monitoring changes in a negative behavior) you must be able to evaluate the effectiveness of the training.
With your managers and team leaders, establish benchmarks and milestones you expect to see as a result of the training. Then require them to track employees’ progress, which should be evident in their day-to-day behavior following the training.
Finding the Right Format for Sustainability
“Training” encompasses everything from encouraging your employees to read a book to planning experiential skills development sessions that offer in-depth training on business-critical skills that drive results. The success of any training should be measured in behavioral changes as a result of the training. These changes should be demonstrated in both day-to-day activities and be sustained over time. At Eagle’s Flight we break down behavior change in four steps and experiential learning is one training format that can add value to each step:
- Head - They Know what to do, what not to do, and understand the rationale
- Heart - They have the conviction that adopting new behaviors is important
- Hands - They have practiced the behaviors expected on the job and know how to apply the new skills
- Harvest - They have a clear line of sight to the positive impact on their results
Regardless the format you choose, ensure the content is relevant, comprehensive and easy to digest. Employees should walk away from every session with advice they can immediately act on. If that happens, you have put into place practical training solutions that make a positive impact on the business.