Thank you for trusting us with your learning needs and for inviting us to collaborate and contribute to your success.
Wishing our Facilitador friends and family a healthy, happy, inspiring and amazing 2018!
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.
I may learn something new but it doesn’t necessarily mean that I am ready to apply it. Many times I learned great concepts that made sense and was eager to use or implement. However, when I tried using them for the first time, reality hit. I was bombarded with all the variables that reality brings and it was not easy to actually apply what I had just learned.
When this happens, research tells us that this discourages individuals from attempting to apply what they learned again. As adult learners we are sensitive about making a fool out of ourselves and especially in front of others. The result is that the concept I was thrilled to implement goes to waste.
What do we do as instructional designers if we don’t have the budgets or the time to build full-fledged simulations that try to recreate reality?
I want to suggest that the key is to consider the following question:
How will the learners use the knowledge when they are back on the job?
Given the answer, you can then devise strategies for providing scaffolds that support the acquisition of competence in the application of the new knowledge. Think of training wheels for a bicycle so that the learner can feel confident they won’t fall or make a fool of themselves in attempting to apply the new knowledge. This way, you can prevent your learners from becoming discouraged to apply what they’ve learned.
If we start from the premise that any training or learning and development investment is an investment in the individuals that participate in that training event, then it follows that those individuals are the ones who are best suited to determine the worth and merit of that training event. Isn’t this obvious and don’t most organizations allow for that? The answer is sadly no.
Surveying the participants is definitely the right move but not before, during or immediately after the training event. It is about allowing a span of time to pass so integration or learning transfer occurs. It is only when the participants are back on their jobs facing the realities of unexpected challenges and ever-changing conditions that they can determine how the training investment better equipped them to succeed. This determination may change with time and this is why it makes sense to measure it more than once at different intervals.
Therefore, what is the question we need to ask at different intervals after the training event? The answers to this two-part question, when documented and systematically organized, can demonstrate the link between learning investments and positive business results. We’d like to suggest it is: Since you participated in XYZ training event, how have you improved yourself and what results have you achieved due to those improvements?
It really can be that simple.
To learn more about this approach, take a look at our new article in CLO Magazine on the value of documentation: http://bit.ly/1OtIqRd
All of us have heard the statistics about the amount of actual knowledge that gets implemented back on the job from a training program. Most researchers have estimated that only ten percent or less actually transfers. So for every $100 we are investing in a training program we are only putting to work ten dollars- and according to other researchers it could be a dismal five dollars or less. When you factor in the fact that of those $100 invested a big portion may have been spent in travel and/or logistics, then this estimation of five dollars or less is actually quite generous.
Here is the tough part, that has cost me years to understand, the responsibility of transfer is, most often than not, seen as belonging to the instructional designer or training and development department. Many others within the organization wash their hands and expect the instructional designer to wave a magic wand delivering individuals who are ready to apply what they have learned. And here in lies the culprit, the number one enemy of the absolute best instructional design is lack of opportunity to apply what I have learned. It sounds deceptively simple but not letting me put into action what I have learned doesn’t allow me to truly transfer to the physical world what I have learned.
The simple application of knowledge to a novel task is called ‘reproductive transfer’ and when there is adaptation, mutation and enhancement it is referred to as ‘productive transfer’ (Robertson, 2001) which is what we want to happen. But again, I have to be given the opportunity to apply what I have just learned. If the organization does not take this into account, the best instructional design will fail. Keep it simple by all of us agreeing – operations, marketing, sales and training – how individuals will apply what they learn before we start designing.
As the year comes to an end, we are grateful for the projects we have been able to contribute to. Through these projects we know we are impacting the lives of many for the good. When our clients invest in developing their talent and partner with us to create success opportunities for their employees, they allow us to fulfill our mission to expand knowledge and bring about progress. With this in mind, we want to suggest the following questions that can help training and development departments fortify their position within organizations as value creators instead of cost centers:
– Can we implement strategies to further demonstrate the value we bring to the organization, through success stories and tangible business results that can linked back to the training investments?
– Can we demonstrate how the acquisition of experience is accelerated through the programs we create?
– Can we anticipate the training needs of our internal clients?
– Can we look into strategies to replicate our top performing employees and support them on the job?
– Can we inject fun, excitement and a little intrigue into our programs to enhance perceived value and generate more participation?
We are excited to explore these questions with you in 2016!
Can you train an adult who is not motivated to be trained? Can you motivate an adult to learn? Anybody who has trained adults will tell you that when motivation is present learning occurs, one way or another, because the individual will be able to overcome frustration, disappointment or any other obstacle that gets in the way. The opposite is also true: when motivation is not present it is practically impossible to train someone.
So if motivation is essential, why do we forget as instructional designers to incorporate methods to motivate individuals to make the best of the training and development programs we create? In my opinion the culprit is assuming our learners are motivated to learn. As Felix Unger in an episode of The Odd Couple says: “When you ass-u-me you make an ‘ass of u and me’!”
The fact that motivation is important for adults is not new. E.C. Lindeman’s in The Meaning of Adult Education in 1926 noted that adults are motivated to learn as they experience needs. The late renowned psychologist, Carl R. Rogers, stated that adults will learn only those things they perceive will help them enhance themselves, clearly underlining the value of relevancy for the adult learner. Recent research has summed it up to two basic questions adults will ask themselves before they engage in learning:
The first question hits on the concept of motivation, since the adult learner is asking if what they are about to learn is worth their time and effort.
How to Avoid It
As good instructional designers we have to start by understanding our audience and their motivation and can’t simply assume individuals are motivated to learn because the training program is mandatory, necessary for advancement, or a high-potential leadership development program, for example. We need to incorporate strategies that address the needs for adult learners to align their own needs, aspirations and desires with the objectives of the elearning, virtual classroom, instructor-led, game, simulation or blended training program we are designing. It starts with basic questions such as:
— Have we done a good job in sharing how individuals will benefit? (This question addresses the external or extrinsic motivators that may be leveraged).
— Have we shared how others have benefited and what they have been able to accomplish? (This question is intended to ensure the creation of a vicarious experience that leads the learner to determine that it can be done).
— Have we leveraged communication, recognition, or other strategies to stimulate positive behavior before, during and after the training? (This question addresses the internal or intrinsic motivators).
In summary, have we respected the need for the adult learners to question the importance of the training program and provided satisfactory answers along the way that align with their own agenda? Remember what Oscar said: never assume that these strategies are in place. Assume they are not and embed them to ensure your learners always find their motivation.
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.
Recently, I overheard a conversation at a learning conference when I was waiting to enter a room I was scheduled to present at. The conversation between the two individuals went like this:
“What content provides the biggest bang for your buck? That is the question I have about this e-Learning project we are starting. It’s going to take a lot of effort so knowing what we include and don’t include will be key.”
“Yes we have to look for what’s really going to move the needle so we continue getting funding.”
“I was thinking that what we need to do is make sure we give the people out on the field what they need. They have to tell us what is going to make it or break it for them.”
The question of what is the content that will be most effective within an eLearning solution is very important. Equally or perhaps more importantly is how the knowledge is going to be delivered and how it will be accessed by the learner. Consider the following: in regular face-to-face communications we have three components. They are:
What we actually say represents only about 7% of the equation, with 38% going to how we say it and 55% going to the body language we use when we say it (Mehrabian and Ferris, 1967).
If we were to apply this formula when thinking of an eLearning solution, we would give more weight to how the knowledge will be accessed (55%) than to how the knowledge will be delivered (38%) or what the knowledge is that will be delivered (7%). I am not suggesting that one is more important than the other, but I am suggesting we start by thinking how the knowledge will be accessed by the learner at the point of need.
As adult learners we do not need to remember everything or memorize things, we need to be able to execute our jobs and access knowledge when we need it to support our successful execution of the task(s) at hand. Therefore, any eLearning solution that does not “follow” the learner back when they are on the job will miss the opportunity to provide the most value to that learner at the moment of need.
Now if we consider the content question again under this perspective, we could argue that the ideal content is that which will help our employees perform at their best when they are back on the job. And who knows this best? Our top performing employees. Therefore, the content can come from these employees. How? The best way I have found is through what we call “user-generated content” or self-shot short videos of these top employees sharing specific know-how and best practices to support the successful execution of a task or a step within their jobs. And how will these videos be delivered? It is up to the training department to curate, organize, tag, label, and rank the videos for easy on-the-job access. Creating employee-generated content is not hard if you create the right framework for the training department to be able to accomplish this.
How often do we design learning experiences thinking about how the learners will use the knowledge when they are back on the job?
Many custom eLearning companies will emphasize the need to create great learning experiences. Elearning consultants may emphasize that multimedia, animations and other wow factors will lead individuals to have a meaningful experience. However, in a corporate training and development department or workplace learning setting, the objective is to impact performance in a way that advances the organization’s objectives. Therefore, should we as instructional designers concern ourselves more with creating a great learning experience or do we focus more on enabling the performance that needs to happen after the learning experience? In our experience working with leading organizations that range from multinationals to progressive startups, we have seen that ensuring the success of the learners when the time comes to act is the most important function of the custom eLearning or custom training and development solution. The fact that the learning experience was great will be meaningless if it does not equip the learner to succeed when they are back on the job.
Anticipating how learners will use the knowledge when they are confronted with the realities and pressures of the job, can guide the instructional designer to incorporate specific strategies to leverage this context and to incorporate informational, procedural or decision-making job-aids at the point of need. The instructional designer’s input can and should go beyond the learning experience.