Keep your training department and its customers knowledgeable by avoiding the Top Ten Training Myths. Training departments are sometimes viewed as being out of touch with the rest of the organization. Because of this, beliefs or myths about training, its functions, and its results tend to develop both within the department and outside it. To keep your training department and its customers knowledgeable, avoid these ten training myths.
One: If training content is exactly the same each time, each group of participants will end up with the same knowledge. We can take every precaution to make sure training is delivered exactly the same every time – it’s a good practice and will maintain consistency. But remember that adults learn differently. Your learners will “hear” different things, focus on different aspects of the material, and lose focus at different times. Don’t promise managers that everyone will know the same thing. Instead, give them an overall picture of what is covered in the material.
By Bryant Nielson, Managing Director On October 25, 2012 No Comments
Being tasked with building or managing a training organization is a larger-than-life responsibility. Mistakes will happen – but here are the ten most common training mistakes and how to avoid them.
Building and managing a training department is a difficult task. Mistakes can be made in many areas of training and development, but there are some common mistakes that you and your staff can avoid. Here are the top ten training mistakes – from development and delivery to funding.
One: Setting up the expectation that each training participant will end up with exactly the same knowledge. Adults learn in different ways and focus on different material. When that happens, Participant #1 may have a different knowledge base than Participant #2 when the training is complete. To avoid this problem, provide your students a general outline of what’s covered in training and what they are expected to learn.
By Bryant Nielson, Managing Director On October 4, 2012 No Comments
Summary: Looking for a way to bring your training department to the next level? Create a training culture by obtaining buy-in from stakeholders and staff.When the training department is up and running and your courses are being delivered regularly, does that translate into your firm having a training culture? Without buy-in from stakeholders and training staff, you don’t. Here are some ways to create the culture by involving stakeholders and your staff.
Your department’s stakeholders are often subject-matter-experts in the field – they could be the company’s executives, department managers, and even high performers. Far too often, training programs are developed and delivered without any input from this important group. To avoid that mistake, involve your stakeholders from the beginning, with the development of your training. Ask them what material should be covered in your courses. Obtain step-by-step procedures from the subject-matter-experts and stakeholders. Gain approval from the executives with a simple but clear explanation of what is going to be covered in a training course and program. Your benefit is twofold: first, you’re getting stakeholder buy-in. Second, you’re getting the most accurate, field-worthy information to include in your training.
Now that you have stakeholders involved in development, don’t leave them at the door of the classroom. (more…)
By Bryant Nielson, Managing Director On September 27, 2012 No Comments
Summary: Are you challenged with creating a new training department? Here are ten steps to help you create a Training Dojo, a place where employees go to learn about their jobs, progress to higher career levels, and discover how to become better managers and leaders.
A dojo is a martial arts training center – the place where learners come to absorb technique and wisdom. You can create a Training Dojo in your organization, a place where employees come to learn about their jobs, progress to higher career levels, and discover how to become better managers and leaders. Follow these 10 steps to create your Training Dojo.
One: Create a culture of development. Many organizations lack a culture that will allow training and development to grow. You must show the organization the benefits of training, from functional knowledge to career development. Explain that a training organization can lead to increased efficiency, lower turnover, higher retention, and a culture that allows learning to happen everywhere – not just in a classroom.
By Bryant Nielson, Managing Director On September 20, 2012 No Comments
A well-developed and well-rounded training program will create a “path of excellence” that impacts the bottom line as well as individual careers. If you are mindful of leadership and function in your training programs, you can see your path of excellence develop in five ways.
First, your functional or job-based training will create expert functionality. From the new hire level into the advanced levels, a skills based program helps employees progress career-wise, and helps the organization build a functional talent pool. To make this happen, your training has to go beyond the new hire level and address each career level in a particular job family. With this type of program, you’ve always got talent filtering through the pipeline.
Second, the leadership side of your training program imparts the skill and knowledge necessary to build functional leaders into organizational leaders. As your employees progress up the skills based training curriculum, be sure they have leadership, coaching, and management courses to go with it. The combination of job function and leadership produces supervisors and managers who can think beyond the function – a person who can analyze issues and create solutions. With this type of leader in your functional areas, senior managers can spend more time focusing on their issues instead of focusing on the front line. (more…)
By Bryant Nielson, Managing Director On January 1, 2009 No Comments
It seems that we have the idea that New Year’s Resolutions should apply only to our personal issues, such as health, career, and family. As learning and development professionals, we can make five simple resolutions for 2009 and pave the way for more efficient and cost-effective training. Not only will you improve learning at your organization, you will continue to justify your worth in a tough economic climate.
First, promise to use needs analysis before saying, “I do” to a training request. This may be difficult in this climate, where some training organizations are hanging by a thread and expected to do whatever comes their way. But your needs analysis can be positioned as a way to get every penny’s worth of cost and time – and that’s important for organizations that are lean in pocketbook and staff.
<!–more–>When you are asked to take on a project, ask questions first. For example, a training request may arise from employee mistakes. In this case, ask what’s wrong. This question leads to a discussion of what the employee group is doing right now and how they are making the mistakes they are making. In cases where there is no apparent mistake, ask the stakeholders what the expected outcome is. Are employees supposed to learn a new process, a new product, a new system, or a combination of all three? From this, you can determine what the change is going to be – and how to focus your development and delivery efforts.
Second, make a promise to know your audience. It’s easy to get caught up in the needs analysis, delivery methods, and instructional design, but don’t forget that your entire purpose is to serve the population you’re developing for. We know that the world has changed in many ways and in a very short period of time. But we should also be aware that the emerging workforce is tech savvy and ready to learn on a need-to-know basis, and some of them may not remember a time without computers or the Internet! But then again, we have people from the “greatest generation” returning to work to supplement dwindling retirement accounts.
With all of this in mind, try to discover the learning and life characteristics of your audience during your needs analysis. If you’ve got fresh-from-college management trainees, gear your training toward their life experiences. If you have mixed groups, throw in elements from all of the groups to keep the training moving along – and to remind every trainee that the workforce is now a broad spectrum of experience and knowledge. But for 2009, don’t design training based on your own experience. Know your audience and make each program work like a charm.
Third, fill your training with examples and real-life problems. Again, it’s easy to talk about procedures, customer service, and leadership from a knowledge standpoint. But if there is no application for the audience, they are losing out on the learning experience. For example, customer service training can be enhanced with case studies or scenarios in which participants must choose a reaction or outcome to the situation. Processes or regulations can be taught in the same manner: explain the rules, then create a scenario that describes a breach of rules – and have the participants solve the problem.
Fourth, in relation to examples, create the opportunity for training participants to practice at every opportunity, both in the classroom and on the job (OTJ). If you are teaching technical skills, arm participants with a quick reference guide or tutorial and then “set them loose” on a practice system. The customer service scenarios we described above can be followed by role plays, where a “customer” is given a scenario and asked to act it out with a training participant.
In relation to OTJ practice, try a new approach. Send trainees out to their jobs with a list of activities they must complete with their manager’s guidance. Create a checklist or rubric that details the activity and the expected outcome so that the manager can provide feedback and correct any errors. Make the job an extension of the classroom and you’ve just further proven your worth as a learning organization.
Finally, try to enter 2009 with your delivery staff in mind. Don’t send them to the classroom unprepared. Create a formal train the trainer program for each new course – and write the train the trainer into the formal development time for the course. Have instructors “teach back” the material in the classroom setting so that the design staff can see if their ideas work in “real life”. Have the instructors take the tests, try out the quick reference guides, and act out the role plays before they go into the classroom. With this method in place, you’ll have top- notch instructors who know every part of their program.
Times may be tough, but your learning organization can continually prove its worth by putting these five resolutions into place today.
Copyright 2009 Bryant Nielson. All Rights Reserved.
By Bryant Nielson, Managing Director On October 24, 2008 No Comments
By following five best practices, you can maintain an efficient and high-performing training organization. The practices by which training organizations operate are as numerous as training organizations themselves. Training best practices can reach the most detailed level of every day operations, but there are five broad-based practices that can help you set up an efficient and high-performing training organization.
Training starts with the design and development of the programs. Whether you have an instructional design staff, a training staff that does design and delivery, or even if you do it all yourself, there is a simple best practice associated with design. Team with subject matter experts (SME’s), the people who do the jobs and manage the jobs, in order to produce accurate content. Some training organizations believe that a trainer or designer who did a job previously is qualified to write content, and this may be true in some cases. But by engaging the field, you are creating the assurance that the content will be the latest and the “realest” content available. How many times have your trainees returned to the job only to be told “we don’t do it that way out in the field”? You are also creating the constant dialogue between the field and training that must occur regularly to ensure buy in, accurate content, and assistance in making changes if necessary. (more…)
By Bryant Nielson, Managing Director On October 20, 2008 No Comments
Training programs should offer incentive for employees to learn. By following four simple steps, you can make your training programs meaningful to every learner.
Assembling all of your training programs is a fantastic accomplishment. Making them meaningful is another question. Of course you want to make them useful – you want trainees to go back to the line and use the information you’ve given them to increase production, better serve customers, or increase sales. Adults must be willing to learn, so it is necessary to fill your training with incentives for them to do so. There are four ways to make training meaningful, so keep this in mind as you develop your programs.
First, concentrate on the “need to know” versus the “nice to know”. When designing any training content, ask the people in the field if the information presented is necessary to function on the job. Sometimes we may think that by providing “higher education” to our employees we are giving them an incentive to learn. Leave that to tuition reimbursement – the incentive we can offer is how the employee can improve their performance and get a raise, win a promotion, or move to a desired area by attending our classes. “Nice to know” information does not satisfy the employees need to understand why they are sitting in class instead of working. Once you’ve filled your training with “need to know” information, word will get around – employees will start recommending the training classes to others. (more…)