Effective employee training is vital to the success of any business, no matter the size or scope.
While employers often struggle with allocating resources into a training program, the reality is that without one, growth and long-term profitability will likely suffer.
To have a thriving company, team members must be given the tools to confidently and autonomously complete their work. From startups to Fortune 500 companies, the basic needs of an effective training program are consistent.
It first requires an understanding of the four main learning styles and then developing content for each:
• Visual learners may like to watch a demonstration or video. They often like flashcards and would rather read a story than listen to it.
• Auditory learners are good listeners. They often remember facts that they have heard, and group discussions and reading aloud aid their learning.
• Reading/writing learners love making lists and prefer written directions. Give these types of learners printouts so they can follow along.
• Kinesthetic learners enjoy hands-on activities and learning games. During your training, you may find them fiddling with objects. That’s a sign that they may need a break to move around a bit.
Provide a tie-in to every learning style as you develop your training program. Not only will the content be accessible to each style of learner, it will also strengthen the understanding of all the program participants. The more they are exposed to the material, the better it will stick.
Don’t Rush the Process
Just as we all learn in different ways, we also learn at different paces. Don’t expect every employee to reach the same level of competency at the same time. Some learners can grasp concepts from the first time the material is introduced, while others need time and repetition to fully learn it.
There are positives and negatives to each tendency, so don’t discount those who need more time.
Once you have implemented a training program, you can determine acceptable lengths of time to grasp information and ensure your trainees fall within a reasonable range.
Plan for Ongoing Training
Often, employees are given some amount of initial training with no planned follow up or review.
That isn’t how people learn. Our capacity to absorb information is never the same rate as our ability to share information. Saying something once is rarely effective.
According to the Ebbinghaus Forgetting Curve, we forget most of what we are taught within one hour, and after a month’s time, we remember just 21 percent.
Learning is not a one-time event, and it is good to convey that to employees. If they understand that training is an ongoing process, they will be more relaxed as they learn, which yields better learning outcomes.
Test New Trainees and Employees
Measure the success of your training program by testing as you go. While you don’t want your employees to feel as if they are back in school again, administering tests and quizzes gauges their understanding of important concepts and general information. Testing can be fun and interactive.
You can find many creative resources online.
Think of the tests as an assessment of your training program. Are the materials being understood?
Could parts of the program be more engaging? Look for trends that help you improve your program with each new training class.
Have a Dedicated Training Space
If possible, set aside a quiet room where training will take place. Set it up with audio-visual equipment, a whiteboard and other training materials. Allow employees to use this room to study or help one another, and keep distractions at a minimum. Let employees know the training space is a safe place to learn and that questions are encouraged.
Train the Trainer
Every company seems to have longstanding employees who know how everything works in their departments, and it’s tempting to appoint one of these employees as a trainer or assign one to develop the training program. Just because someone knows a subject well does not mean that he or she can teach it to another person. Be sure to train your trainer. Test for training capabilities, and equip the trainer with the resources and support to be successful.
Training is a long-term investment, not a short-term expense. A rushed, scattered approach may feel like it’s saving time initially, but it will ultimately cost you in the end. Your employees are usually your greatest single expense. The more you invest in them, the greater return you will achieve on that investment.
Chris Hotham Carroll is operations consultant for The LMC Group, a management services firm with headquarters in Manchester. For more information, call 603-217-5045 or visit lmc.group.