Learning happens in formal and informal settings. As a training professional for almost 30 years, I’ve observed that encouraging participants to pull training works better than pushing it to them. Rather than mandating training programs , seek out the root cause of behavior and address that. Many requests for training program development aren’t really requests for classes, but a call to action for more active learning.
It’s quite easy to place an order for a training course. It’s harder to deliver on the promise of true behavioral change. However, by adopting a strategy to involve participants’ in their own learning, you can help modify the way that people actually work and interact. Investing the time into socializing the whole traditional learning experience reaps many benefits. Participants respond more positively to feedback about their performance. Managers report better return on investment for time spent on learning activities because participants become accountable for achieving learning objectives.
Reporting the number of training courses and training hours spent reflects a typical way of measuring training success. However, true learning is more elusive. Talent development occurs on a day-to-day basis, not in a single event. Getting organizations to recognize the value of collaborative learning on the job starts with having people think about where and when they learned the most beneficial skills and knowledge. Most people describe a special project, assignment or relationship. Few people cite a particular self-paced training course reviewed in isolation. Self-paced training courses certainly contribute to learning but application back on the job makes the real difference.
Treat training as an opportunity, not a burden. Set up a wide array of experiences, ranging from multimedia to face-to-face meetings, to accelerate capability building. Help them tailor learning to their own needs and resist the temptation to standardize programs. It’s harder to manage and measure but more engaging and useful in the long run.
For example, when you have a performance problem, new hire or change to address, list the skills and knowledge required to achieve success. Provide learning solutions that enable participants to learn by doing, seeing, hearing and reading. Then, they can choose the events and experiences that suit their personality, learning style, lifestyle and career goals. This is somewhat like changes in the music industry. Music listeners download individual songs and assemble their own playlists that suit their mood. Leveraging social media technology for learning and offering choices that involve collaborating with others to study, discuss and debate helps participant’s learn faster, better and cheaper. It’s a win-win situation.