Make Learning Stick!

Embed learning: make it count!

Whilst it is great that businesses are recognising how effective training can be, it is important to remember that it is not a tick-box exercise or one-stop solution. Unfortunately, it’s not as simple as: ‘they’ve been trained, they should be able to do it.’ Learning is a process or a ‘cycle of learning’[1], as David Kolb (educational theorist) describes. Training methods have come a long way since the ‘chalk and talk’ days and there are a number of different approaches which can help this learning process.

Practical or ‘experiential’ learning for example, is proven to be a more effective method for embedding learning. Statistics suggest that our brain is capable of absorbing about 5% of information delivered in a lecture format, whereas in experiential learning it can absorb 75%! As an interactive method, experiential learning ensures that individuals not only absorb information more effectively but gain that in-depth understanding of the skills, so that they are able to apply them in their day to day role.

One experiential training method example is Forum Theatre, which uses professional actors to give teams the opportunity to observe and direct different scenarios that they might encounter in their role. Being positioned as the ‘Director’ of the scenario, delegates are outside the action themselves and therefore have a safe, objective environment to apply different techniques they’ve learned and see how these play out. For Business Actor, Matt Robinson, the power of Forum Theatre lies in this role as ‘Director’, it enables them ‘to shape the scene, focus the clarity of their feedback and see the impact of this feedback played out live before them’, he explains. This experience prepares individuals to more confidently and independently deal with situations in their day to day role. ‘The nuances of body language, tone of voice and words people use become magnified’, adds Business Actor, Andrew Norris, noting that individuals are also able ‘to see their own behaviour reflected in the role players, which is a valuable learning tool.’ As an experiential training method, Forum Theatre is effective and often eye-opening for those involved.

Another cost-effective method for embedding learning is a ‘Train the Trainer’ approach, which utilises the most important assets in a business – its people! By creating mentors within the business, the support network is automatically strengthened. This approach also motivates and rewards those given the responsibility of training others, with the added benefit of flexibility because the learning can be delivered in short sessions to reduce time off the job. The ‘Train the Trainer’ approach offers an effective way to reinforce individual development and embed learning internally, cultivating that all important learning – not training – culture.

Training doesn’t have to be time-consuming but in order to see return on investment it does need to be considered strategically, planned carefully and implemented effectively in a way which suits the individual business and those within. Any training initiative needs full backing and commitment from not just those directly involved but from management as well. Individuals need dedicated coaching and support in order to make effective changes. With this, they will be able to personally develop and deliver the results that they expect and that are expected of them.

To find out more about Forum Theatre, take a look at one of our workshops here:

[1] David Kolb, 1984 Learning Styles Model