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Does the training for new hires match the job?
– “We are not sure.”
These are some of the answers we constantly hear. When these answers are provided, then common follow-up questions sound like this:
– “What is the training for?”
– “Isn’t it to improve performance on the job?”
– “Yes, but it is about developing the individual.”
– “But isn’t the purpose of developing the individual so that s/he can improve his/her results and hence the results of the organization?”
– “Yes and yes. OK great so does the training for new hires match the job so they know what to do when they start?”
Sadly, the answer at the end of the day is “No” in many organizations.
It is important to instill a sense of excitement to welcome new hires and provide them with the tools to be successful. Background knowledge of the company and how it started is always good but it won’t improve their abilities to succeed. Many of the content topics covered in new hire training are not centered around the question of what will help the new hires succeed. Research has pointed to the fact that nothing will improve their ability to succeed more than they themselves believing they can succeed. If this is the case, then building the confidence of new hires should be goal number one.
What is the best way to achieve this? By modeling the new hire training around the actual job they will do. This will not only provide context and meaning to the instruction but it will build the confidence of the new hire by showing them that they can do the job.
A way to start is to break down the job into its most important tasks and then work your way back from there by making those steps the topic outline of your new hire training. If you provide all the background knowledge within the context of how it impacts and fits within their job, then you will succeed in eliminating unknowns and boosting your new hires confidence to succeed. Ultimately, this is the best guarantee for a successful new hire training initiative.
Optimizing technical training for the business is a challenge that learning and development departments must meet in order to advance the goals of the organization. Usually a lot of technical information is available and it is not easy to discern and identify what needs to be taught to each of the different employee groups or stakeholders such as front-line leaders, marketing and sales departments or distributors.
Usually technical teams will have the best intentions and these are manifested in their desire to be thorough and cover everything possible about the given technical process, product or service. These good intentions lead to the creation of training programs that contain a lot of data and information. Essentially, I have seen these training programs become what I refer to as an information dump – and sometimes they can be pretty stinky!
Life can be easier for the technical team and for the training team if they consider the first question of our guiding principles when designing training programs. This question is: How will the learners use the knowledge when they are back in their job? Answering this question from the perspective of each different group of employees and stakeholders allows instructional designers to start identifying what will be most useful. In addition, by considering these different perspectives we can create guidelines for the subject matter experts (SMEs) to discern what of their expertise will be most useful. For example, if the stakeholders are managers, SMEs would put more emphasis on the technical knowledge needed to manage the technology and less towards understanding all the details of the technology.
As obvious as this sounds, it is important to focus on what is important for the “other”. It is not about the “I” (what I think is important as a technical expert), rather it is about what information is a “need-to-know” for the learner to achieve peak performance at their specific position within the organization.
The purpose of any learning or training program is to help the learner or trainee improve him or herself and the results they achieve for the organization. So if this is this case why not make the learning and training program subservient to how the individual will utilize the learning to improve herself and her organization? And keep in mind that acquisition of knowledge and skills to develop competence and ideally reach a level of mastery does not occur from one day to the next; it is a process that in some cases can take years.
We find that when it comes to deciding on a curriculum to prepare individuals for a job role and when leveraging instructional design to deliver this curriculum, most organizations forget the obvious points above.
The first problem is that many organizations try to fit a series of topics, or “things individuals must know” or are “supposed to know” to be successful in their job into an ever expanding curriculum. Chances are that they end up with a huge curriculum that can’t be covered in the amount of time allotted for the training and development program and as a result, critical topics can be left out. The second problem is that many organizations forget the fact that the road to mastery is a process and don’t leverage sound instructional design to support this process.
The first problem is tackled by taking holistic approach to the curriculum and this starts with asking what are successful behaviors of top performers in that role. From there we derive the competencies that need to be developed to execute those behaviors. Then, we ask what are the skills and knowledge that make up those competencies that over time will lead to mastery and lastly, given the aforementioned, how do we make the knowledge and support through this process as least disruptive as possible from the employee’s current work responsibility and environment. Here is where a blended approach is king since it is only through a blended approach that we can find ways for individuals to work and collaborate real time with others, access information when they want it from wherever they want, and access live support on their road to mastery.
Only by taking a holistic instructional approach and leveraging technology can we make the learning subservient to how the learners will utilize the learning to improve themselves and their organizations. We are excited to work with organizations that don’t forget the obvious.
Have you heard the talk when it comes to eLearning that says: “It rarely lives up to its expectations“?
In the mid-90’s and early 2000’s the talk was clear: eLearning would take over the world! Then came the fact that it was self-paced e-learning that was going to give corporations an effective, efficient and economical way of distributing knowledge across the corporation. Then reality struck. Completion rates of self-paced eLearning when not mandatory were below 5% in most organizations and people were complaining left and right when told to take any eLearning course.
It appears that most people forgot that not all eLearning is created equal. There were many electronic page turners (EPT) that were given the name of “eLearning” and since many corporate learning and development departments who purchase and develop eLearning don’t actually consume it (or take it), these EPTs would make it past them. (We jokingly call this “the dog food syndrome” because the owner of the dog – who buys the dog food – doesn’t actually consume it). These EPTs reinforced the perception that eLearning was just not living up to anybody’s expectations evidenced by dismal completion rates and low satisfaction scores.
The bright stars in all of this were the organizations that invested in the right instructional design resources and built real online self-paced interactive learning experiences. This weeded out the organizations that were serious about leveraging the eLearning medium from the ones that didn’t. However, there is a way to ensure that eLearning lives up to its expectations even if we dare call EPTs eLearning, and that is to make eLearning or EPTs part of a blended approach. Obviously, a well developed, instructionally sound course will be able to support a blended approach better than an EPT but both can be designed into a blended approach that doesn’t rely exclusively on the eLearning or the EPT to be effective but on a blended strategy that leverages other mediums like face-to-face instruction, live virtual classrooms, and experiential learning opportunities to achieve tangible results. The concept is that in order for simple eLearning to be king and live up to its expectations, it has to be part of a more robust blended approach.