Engaging participants in each training program is very important, but you should always be aware of how to engage them in the way that each program fits into the overall curriculum – and the employee’s career path. You can create engagement by having efficient and solid curricula, career paths, coaching and mentoring programs, and leadership training. All of the information about the development program should be transparent, as well.
A well-developed curriculum for each job, job group, or division goes a long way to engage participants in training. To begin with, when a participant knows that he or she is working toward a goal or an end, engagement comes easier. In fact, consider offering certificates of completion for associates who finish their assigned curriculum or curricula. Some organizations go a step further, together with HR and the department or division, to offer salary or position increases for the completion of training curricula. If you can’t go this far yet, get HR and managers involved in congratulating those associates who finish curriculum programs.
Along with the curriculum, career paths can be extremely engaging outside of the classroom. If you pair the completion of a curriculum with preparation for advancement, associates will be all the more engaged in the training. For example, if an entry-level associate completes a certain curriculum, work with the department and HR to determine what the next logical career step will be. Although completing a curriculum should not be the only criteria for promotion, it is a step in the promotion process and gives the associates a true stake in their careers.
When you are examining the possibility of curricula and career paths, consider breaking them down into leadership and functional areas. The functional curriculum and career path helps an associate learn his or her job or job functions, as well as prepare for promotion or lateral movement. An associate can engage in a leadership path from any point in his or her career. The leadership curriculum and career path can teach basic leadership skills and then progress to more advanced skills that prepare associates for managerial or supervisory roles.
Another way to engage participants both before and after training is through coaching and mentoring programs. If the learner goes through training with the promise of having a coach afterward, he or she will most likely retain more information in order to “prove” knowledge to the coach. In the same way, a coach can prepare learners for the training program in advance, giving them the information they need to perform well in class. Keep in mind that a coach provides direction and advice in one area, such as a job function, while a mentor provides overall guidance on career progression. Can you think of some ways a mentor program would create participant engagement? If you combine a mentor with well-developed curriculum and career path programs, the learner will remain engaged because there is a goal as well as a person who is invested in the associate’s progression.
Creating development paths for associates is an excellent engagement tool, but the key, once again, is to measure the program against some of our keys for engagement. To begin with, development should be accessible to all associates. This means that career paths should be virtually transparent – there should be no secrecy in how associates progress and get promoted. For example, your Learning Management System can probably accommodate curricula and career paths – and these components should be accessible to any associate. This does not mean that an entry-level associate should be immediately eligible for executive leadership training, but it does mean that he or she should be able to see the qualifications, the “prerequisites,” and the programs involved. This type of accessibility creates engagement in each learning program as well as the overall development of each associate. On the other hand, curricula and career paths should be relevant and applicable. Curricula that are present for the sake of knowledge only may not be applicable – and thus may not engage participants. Ensure that each piece of the development program leads to career progression and learners will remain engaged.
For our final discussion of participant engagement, we will examine evaluation.
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Bryant Nielson – Managing Director of CapitalWave Inc.– offers 25+ years of training and talent management helping executives, business owners, and top performing sales executives in taking the leap from the ordinary to extraordinary. Being a big believer in Technology Enabled Learning, Bryant seeks to create awareness, motivate adoption and engage organizations and people in the changing business of education. Bryant is a entrepreneur, trainer, and strategic training adviser for many organizations. Bryant’s business career has been based on his results-oriented style of empowering the individual.
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