What Does ‘Make Learning Real’ Mean?
Essentially, it boils down to achieving return on investment through positive changes in the learner’s behaviours and ability. So, how is this delivered? Well, it’s about the journey as a whole…
Learning new skills and behaviours isn’t just about ticking the box with a training course or workshop. If you were to read a book on how to play golf or have one lesson with a pro, would you then expect to be an accomplished golfer? The answer is unlikely to be ‘yes’ (no offence to your golfing skills!) You would take what you learnt and go away to practice. This is the same with any training intervention; practice makes perfect, and in much the same way as someone learning to play golf (or even the pro’s themselves), the team should be supported in this process.
With this in mind, the approach needs to be holistic i.e. one that considers the pre, during and post-training actions and objectives. Team members need to have bought in to the benefits of the training, so it’s important to get the ‘pre’ bit right, in order for them the best opportunity to hit the ground running during the training programme. Options here might include pre-work or a survey, for example. The ‘post’ bit is also equally important because your team needs to be able to go back in to the workplace and apply what they’ve learnt confidently and effectively. That’s easier said than done as people are likely to return to their comfort positions if not encouraged or supported to try something new or different. Key areas to consider post the training intervention are those such as coaching, mentoring and appropriate follow up sessions or activities.
Different techniques work for different organisations so here are some tips to help make learning real in yours…
1. Clear objectives: make it clear what the purpose of the training is; what it will look to achieve and most importantly, the benefit for the individual. The number of times we hear delegates say, “Not sure what I’m here for, I was just told to attend.” How can you expect team members to buy in to training if they don’t know what they’re going to get out of it?
2. Clear vision and expectations: decide what ‘good’ looks like for your business and then benchmark where your team are against this. Make sure the training is designed to fill this gap, simple!
3. Don’t use training as a quick-fix solution when times are tough: You teach someone to swim to prevent them drowning; you don’t wait for it to happen and then try to teach them –! It’s all about being proactive, which helps to create and nurture that all important learning culture. Moreover, training should be a positive experience; seen as both a reward and opportunity by team members. It should reinforce organisational culture, not merely used as an (ineffective) fire-fighting method.
4. A genuine team effort: to achieve positive change and long-term results, it’s not merely the responsibility of those who attended the training but the team as a whole… All members of an organisation have their own role and responsibility but are also ultimately all working towards one goal: achieving business growth and success. This should be reflected in the learning culture and with a clear, strong support network. It doesn’t have to mean extra work for those not attending or directly involved in training but simple things, like making sure that the learning is reinforced through clear communication.
5. Coaching & mentoring: as well as focusing on team performance, leadership and management play a key role in supporting their teams to practice and implement new skills. Coaching and mentoring is a vital part of both this post-training support and in forward-planning. It can be extremely effective when done well but is something that needs to be planned strategically and remain consistent as a support tool.
6. Stay ahead…even when times are good: as a business there are always opportunities for development and growth, and your training strategy should reflect this. Maintain your position by being prepared and – here it comes again – proactive!