What’s the disconnect? The full answer has many complex, moving parts. But part of the answer is that employees are not always getting what they want and need from the training they are being provided. They ask for training and have high hopes and expectations for the training. But the training they get doesn’t always deliver to expectations.
If you know what your learners really want from the training, you stand a much better chance of delivering on expectations. Consider these three “wants” that top most corporate learners’ wish lists.
#1 Train Me So that I Can Keep My Job, or Get a New One
Most employees want training for one of three basic reasons:
- To keep (and get better at) their job.
- To position themselves for a promotion.
- To position themselves to make the jump to a new company.
In other words, people want to take training if it they will gain job-related knowledge or skills that are relevant to their current role—or their next role. (If you’re worried that you’ll train your employees only to have them leave you for your competitor, you may have a legitimate concern. But providing sub par training, or no training at all, is not going to improve employee retention either. Excellent training programs help companies to attract and retain employees, but if employees want to leave, the issue is typically bigger than training.)
Ideas for learning professionals to make training relevant:
- Link training to workplace performance, make it non-punitive, and ensure that training is the right answer for the business problem you aim to address.
- Improve productivity by linking training to job satisfaction.
- Actively seek to close any organizational skills gap via training solutions.
- Make learning stick by extending training to the job site.
- Start with an employee co-created learning plan to discover what your employees want from training and to influence them to be more connected to their learning and success.
#2 If I Take Your Training, It Better be “Good”
No matter how enthusiastic someone is to take a training class, nothing kills the buzz more than “bad” training—meaning training that isn’t relevant to the learner’s needs (see wish list item #1) and isn’t engaging. No one, no one, likes boring training.
Ideas for learning professionals to engage the learner:
- Create content that is transformative and inspires action.
- Make content engaging and entertaining with immersive visual presentations, creative audio, and targeted video.
- Borrow principles of consumer engagement from the content marketing industry.
- Borrow principles of customer service from the eCommerce industry.
- Use learner engagement techniques, such as gamification.
#3 Show Me Some R-E-S-P-E-C-T
Three of the five principles of the adult learning theories are all related to the need for respect. We want to be respected enough to be allowed to tap into our internal motivation for learning rather than be forced into compliance. We want to be self-directing and make our own learning choices. And we want to be recognized as the experienced adults that we are. We can be a resource for knowledge sharing, community-building, collaboration, and learning by doing. We are mature enough to understand that failure can become a learning opportunity.
Respect your learners by providing relevant, useful, and usable content (see wish list item #1), creating engaging training programs (see wish list item #2), and reducing command-and-control techniques. Empower your learners.
Ideas for learning professionals to ensure that learners feel respected:
- Make training programs collaborative and social, providing access to shared organizational expertise.
- Allow learners the freedom to learn on their own schedule and on their device of choice.
- Provide multilingual support for learners who prefer to learn in another language.
- Give people a choice in navigating their own learning experience, by allowing them to choose which learning modules to complete (when possible) or by using microlearning.
- Design for how people learn, recognizing individual learning styles.
Give the Learners What They Want (and Need)
No one, including learning professionals, has time for boring, irrelevant, disrespectful training. Harsh terms, but unfortunately, apt terms for many training programs available today. With the collective wisdom of educational psychology research, a wide network of experienced learning professionals, and the technological advances available today, the possibilities in corporate learning are waiting to be discovered and used.
What tips can you share to give corporate learners what they want and expect via training programs?
Gauri Reyes is a talent developer and learning leader with extensive experience in roles ranging from software management to managing the learning function in organizations. She is Principal Learning Strategist and CEO at Triple Point Advisors and Founder of the YOUth LEAD program. Follow her on Twitter, LinkedIn or Google+.