Training is a vital part of any growing organization, and key to good employee engagement.
Employers with higher levels of employee engagement have found that investing in training is smart business.
Well-trained, engaged employees translate into higher productivity, increased efficiency and more innovation.
Even if this investment in employee engagement begins with something as simple as expense reimbursement for an employee’s partial degree, employees will take note that you care about their development and begin to build loyalty to you and the organization.
But many times, due to budget constraints, the role of the trainer often falls to a manager or a talented staffer.
Some may have no experience training, while others may see themselves as veterans.
One of the biggest mistakes trainers make is giving a presentation instead of a training session. Lecturing in front of a room doesn’t make for a good training session. It makes for a boring lecture, which the audience is going to check out on and not retain.
In fact, most trainers spend two-thirds of their training session lecturing. But if you truly want learning to take place, it’s best to give your trainees time to discuss things, move around, act on their ideas and teach and learn from each other
Here are 10 great ways you can boost employee engagement through better training by taking your training to the next level.
1. Provide the big picture
Make sure you let trainees know right from the start why they’re learning whatever you’re teaching. Giving the big picture reinforces to trainees what needs to be accomplished by the end of the session. Then a trainer should break it down into smaller pieces, all the while referring back to the big picture so people see how it all fits together.
2. Repeat names
When training a small group, try to start the session off with a smile and a personal greeting. Then attempt to use the attendees’ names at least three times during the training session. It helps them feel like part of the process and will motivate them to do better and pay attention. If you tend to forget people’s names, try associating them with someone famous or someone you know. Another technique for retaining someone’s name is to repeat the person’s name back to him or her when you first meet or when the person enters the training session, if you already know them. You could say, “Hi, Jeff, it’s nice to meet you.” Or “Hi, Mark, so glad you could make it.”
3. What’s in it for me
If you want adults to retain training material, you must show what’s in it for them. Reason: Adults best retain information they consider useful. It’s the way we’re hard-wired. If you fail to show adults how they’re invested in the material, the cerebellum won’t let the info travel to the cerebrum to be stored. It’s vital trainers tie the material to their audience.
4. Apply what was learned
Give people an immediate opportunity to practice what they just learned. The adage – use it or lose it – applies very much to adult learners. Whether it’s in the form of a training exercise or a game, or letting the trainees demonstrate something, they will retain it better the sooner they get to use their new skill or knowledge.
5. Tie it to an experience
Most adults walk around with a lifetime of untapped knowledge in their heads. So help them tap into it. Adult learners have a lot of experience and knowledge they bring to a training session. Whether it’s right or wrong, it will have an impact because it’s in their brains and influences how they perceive things. A great way to get adult learners to retain training material is to tie it to something they already know. By doing that, the brain doesn’t have to learn something new. It just applies what it already knows to a new situation, which strengthens retention and the learning pathways in the brain.
6. Repeat key concepts
If you want your audience to remember the key concepts, repeat them. Put them on a slide, a dry erase board, a handout, etc., and repeat them several times. Then at the end of every session, review the key concepts again. Just like children learn through repetition, so do adults.
7. Be brief
Keep your instruction/lecturing time brief. Teach in 10- to 20-minute time chunks, then change to an activity or group discussion. And every time you break from the short lecture chunks, do a new activity. Even a fun activity becomes repetitive when done in the same way every time.
8. Keep it simple
Don’t overwhelm your audience with everything you know about the topic being covered. Just give them the absolute-need-to-know information. One of the harder things to do as a trainer is break the information down into the need-to-know information and the nice-to-know-but-not-essential information. If you try to cover too much at one time, your audience won’t retain the information. Trainers need to ask themselves “What do my trainees need to know in order to do their jobs efficiently and effectively, and keep their jobs?” The answer is what the actual training session should be built around. You can supplement the training with the nice-to-know stuff as handouts the trainees can take with them and read on their own time. Another way to think about it: If your training time were cut in half, which concepts would you include and which would you make a handout?
9. Attract more bees with honey
It’s not only children that learn better with encouragement. Adults do, too. That’s why the best trainers create a positive learning environment and celebrate small successes, new learned skills and concepts, and deliver feedback in a positive way.
10. Create relaxed environment
One factor important to a fun training session is a relaxed, informal environment. If you can avoid the classroom set-up, then do so. When a trainer stands up front and everyone faces him or her lined up at desks or in chairs it creates a formal lecture environment, which is rarely fun. Get creative. Set up small tables that you can walk between and interact with your audience. Or if it’s a small group, having everyone sit around a big table is better than the classroom set up. You just want trainees to face each other – not just you – so they can interact easily with each other. The goal is to be close enough to engage the audience.