Staff training is an on going part of business. You can’t just toss people in and expect them to swim. That works for a hand full of all-stars, but if you want to increase the success rate and the consistency in how the team does what it does, then effective training is important.
There’s a big difference between having a training session so that you can say you had it; and having a training session that effectively changes behavior. In other words, it doesn’t matter what you tell the team if the message doesn’t stick.
I recently heard my Aunt, who’s working on her Masters in Information Technology, say:
“Understanding the theory behind it is great, but I need to know that when I walk out that door I can do something.”
When it comes to advance education isn’t that what we all want? Information that makes a difference in our business, in our daily life? So why torture staff with boring or ineffective training — when there’s another option on the table?
Dr. John Medina, molecular biologist and author of Brain Rules, says:
“The brain does not pay attention to boring things.”
He continues by stating that we retain and remember six times more information when we experience the words and the images. In fact, there’s a real benefit to adding some entertainment value and true hands on experience to your staff training. But how?
Below are five steps to help make any training message stick (I’ve used it for well over a decade and teach others to do the same — because it still works). Of course, it’s more effort on the trainer and the managers end, but it pays off in a team of people that can actually do the work the way you want it done.
Successful teams don’t build themselves. Effective leaders and managers build successful teams by reinforcing a core message until it becomes second nature for them and their team members.
1) Say It
Even though most people retain more by doing than hearing, all training begins with a message about:
- What it is
- What is expected
- How it works
Before you can expect your team to effectively “do” anything, explain some things. The goal is to expose them to the information. And since your trainer understands that this is step one, he doesn’t have to cram information into people who stopped listening 30 minutes ago. Once you’ve spoken on the subject, it’s time to reinforce the information.
2) Display It
Create visual reminders to use inside your training and to post around the building. The goal is to provide a bite sized way to digest the information from training, and since a picture is worth a 1000 words, then make it visual. Don’t try to cram everything onto one poster. Instead, choose the most important points. You can also:
- Reinforce the steps to a new process
- Add some relevant pictures
- Increase the font size
- Put it on the wall
And for online businesses with teams who work from home, you can place your visuals on your private company website, as well as forward it by email. Now your team has an easy reminder of what is expected, instead of having to wade through a dense report or letter.
3) Demonstrate It
You don’t know what you don’t know until you’re in the middle of the situation. And while hands on is priceless there are certain things that you can NOT allow your team to learn the hard way — because it could be bad for business. So role play. This is the step right before your team gets their hands dirty. Give them a relevant scenario and have them to talk it out and then act it out using the information you just gave. Let them work the kinks out in this setting.
4) Put Their Hands On It
Now that your team has heard it, seen it and had to role play it — it’s time to place them in a real world situation where they have to use what you taught them. To solidify the lesson you have to back off a little bit and let them deal, but make sure they can get in touch with you. Even if you are in the building, let them work it out. They need to feel the fear and find the answer in order to drive the lesson home.
Of course you have a business to protect and clients to take care of, but this step is necessary if you intend to have a team that can produce while you’re in the hospital, on vacation or at a conference. And for your own peace of mind you can be right around the corner ready to step in, but only if necessary.
5) Teach It Again
I don’t care what they say, people need a refresher. So after they have gotten their hands dirty, it’s time talk about the training again. But this time let the staff reteach the lesson to each other. Now you’re driving it home.
Follow these steps and it will stick because you have to know more in order to teach it to others. Plus the team is pulling from personal experience after these steps and not just theory.
Eureka  Photo via Shutterstock