Most corporate training involves instilling new concepts or ideas in participants — like “effective communication,” “team collaboration,” or “strong leadership”. While these are good topics to pursue, they can be quite lofty. The best training brings such high-minded concepts down from the clouds and into understandable terms and exercises that participants can apply to their day-to-day work.
Think of this approach as a practical training solution. As the definition implies, “practical” training, while grounded in theory, is more concerned with how the training will be put to use.
Experiential learning, wherein training exercises mirror the participants’ real world work scenarios, is an incredibly powerful practical training solution. Experiential learning is practical because it leads to an intended outcome, one that’s predictable and repeatable. And since experiential learning mimics participants’ actual work scenarios (though they’re disguised as simulations or challenges to keep the training fun and engaging), applying the lessons gleaned through experiential learning becomes far more natural.
Though before you invest in any practical training solutions, including experiential learning, be sure to address these top considerations:
1. Record of Success
You can find scores of practical training exercises and programs with a quick Google search — but not all practical training solutions are created equally, or are equally vetted. Do case studies and testimonials exist to vouch for a program’s effectiveness? If not, look elsewhere. “Practical” implies real-world application — so if you cannot find proof of a program’s record of real-world success, then that’s not truly practical training at all.
2. Completion Time
Whether it’s a week-long team building conference, or just a half-day of training in the office, how much time you and your company dedicate to a particular event will certainly influence which practical training solutions will work for you. Luckily, a host of practical training programs or exercises exist that can fit within many different time frames.
3. Measuring Effectiveness
Simply put...practical training is measurable training.. Since practical training solutions are by nature action- and results-oriented, strong practical training programs will allow for ways to measure the effectiveness of training outcomes. Tracking how employee retention influences employee success after a training event takes place will help you determine what tweaks need to be made to the training — and if you can demonstrate a positive ROI, getting buy-in for next year’s event becomes that much easier as well.
Another big reason why so many professionals struggle to retain their training...they are simply not being rewarded for doing so. Give your colleagues more concrete reasons to retain their training through positive reinforcement. Reinforcement strategies must be a key facet of all practical training solutions, and the kind of reinforcement you decide to pursue should be tailored to what works best for your particular set of participants.
For example, consider implementing a digital reinforcement system post-training that awards points whenever colleagues engage in activities related to their training on the job, especially if your workplace is full of tech-savvy employees who are always “plugged in.” Having a points system in place that colleagues can “trade in” for rewards is incredibly motivating, while designing the system to be digital — and accessible 24/7 — makes it easy for your tech-dependent colleagues to record their actions.
5. Retention Strategies
Too often, organizational training goes in one ear and out the other. In fact, a recent survey found that just 12 percent of employees report actually using the skills and knowledge that they learned during training in their jobs. This grim training outlook is precisely why retention strategies must factor into the development of practical training solutions. Investing in new training without also investing in support materials and feedback systems will result in training programs that fall flat or fizzle out.
Your biggest retention strategy begins with the decision as to what kind of training you choose to implement. Experiential learning, for example, sticks with colleagues far longer than more passive training techniques like lectures or online video courses. Practical training solutions are solutions that largely become ingrained during the training itself, meaning you only need to rely on a few strong retention strategies post-training.