Effective training tips that employees will actually care about

Training is essential for a successful business, but often staff just aren’t interested. Here are some tips on how to implement effective training that your staff will read and engage with.

students raising hands to ask question during seminar

Training – whether that’s new tools, tech, change management or just a refresher – is crucial. If you don’t try to get the best out of your employees, how do you expect them to contribute towards company culture?

Richard Branson says it well:

‘Train people well enough so they can leave, treat them well enough so they don’t want to.’

But how do you effectively lead good training in the workplace? How do you encourage professional and personal development so that your employees are happy and committed to the business? How do you build culture and get people interested in learning and training initiatives?

Here are our top tips for effective training that will actually make a difference.

1. Communicate better and avoid mass training 

It’s tempting to bulk your team training, but this isn’t a productive option. While sometimes necessary, it’s rare that a one-off, one-size-fits-all approach to training will be effective.

Train beyond the basic needs of your employees, and make it personalised. Why? Nobody likes to be lectured about something they already do. That’s a waste of time, money and resources.

Instead, invest in individual training. By tailoring your training to individuals, you can help bring the best out of everyone and address clear role expectations, existing problems, the positives and the weakness of your team in a respectful way. This way, your employees will clearly understand their individual strengths (and their weaknesses) and they’ll be able to effectively action change.

2. Avoid mass feedback, too 

Like training, when it comes to appraisals or discussions around performance – good or bad – it should be individual. That way, employees will have clarity around where they can work to become better. And everyone can be better.

You can easily apply both these systems by implementing a coaching system. Work with staff to decide on an action they’ll take, then ask them to evaluate it and discuss how it could be improved. From here, your employees can make those improvements.

3. Consider exactly how people learn

Everyone reacts to and absorbs information differently. There are a few insightful approaches to consider when you’re thinking about pedagogy. By thinking about thinking, we can overcome the challenges and fix the faulty processes and overwhelmed employees.

The Kolb four stage learning cycle is effective for this. It summarises:

  1. Concrete experience – The idea of learning from doing.
  2. Reflective observation – We learn by reflecting on past experiences.
  3. Abstract conceptualisation – We form new ideas based on past experience.
  4. Active experimentation –  We take those ideas (the good ones, at least) and test them out.

This approach actively engages employees in the learning process and provides them with the experience that they’re most likely to learn from, which in turn encourages more reflection and continuous learning.

4. Give responsibility as well as training

With the Kolb theory in mind, there is also the idea of letting people get on with it so they can find out for themselves. People need responsibility. And meaningful work can make for mistakes, and mistakes can be learned from (assuming they don’t jeopardise the company).

To do this, deploy the 70:20:10 model. This theory argues that 70 percent of lessons are learned through doing, 20 percent from other people and only 10 percent from courses. This helps empower company culture, along with a shared purpose, and will nurture motivation.

3. Keep enabling learning and development 

Alongside the actions to cultivating good training, you need to enable this training to develop culture beyond just the training programs. Good communication and continuous learning must be built into daily working life.

  • Tools like Slack can be really useful for achieving this. It’s social so it doesn’t feel like work, yet employees will be sharing (and accessing) useful and insightful material, which will increase knowledge and awareness on relevant topics
  • Rewards and incentives are also effective. Praise and rewards for doing good work will push people to learn and do more. Just remember: Balance short-term recognition with long-term purpose. Are they getting rewarded by seeing the results of their hard work, for example? Or do their efforts go unnoticed?

Businesses must adopt an environment of continuous learning. Without it, your employees’ motivation levels will dry up within a matter of weeks.

Know your people

Ultimately good training is all about identifying your team’s individual needs90 percent of companies that have a strong sense of purpose are proven to perform well financially as a result. Take the time to establish company culture, your business’s success depends on it.

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[Note: this blog post was originally written by Charlotte Littley and updated by Paige Toomes in March 2018.]

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