Why most training fails ...
"Why most training fails ..." ... a headline from a newsletter / newsfeed which comes in to me each morning. [article
] And most of what the article says is true.
To quote from the article: "While these methods may get high marks from participants, research (ignored by many training professionals) shows they rarely change behaviour on the job. Knowing isn't the same as doing; good intentions are too easily crushed by old habits."
The methods being discussed / listed include "lectures ("spray and pray"), inspirational speeches or videos, discussion groups and simulation exercises"
We're very much aware
that a critical aspect of training is that what we teach is retained by, and used by our delegates once they get back to their place of work / onto the job. And we make an effort to ensure that the subjects learned are indeed subsequently applied
. Mind you, we're very lucky in that the subjects we teach, and the roles that our delegates are in, leave those delegates little choice but to apply what they have learned in their job roles.
So ... how do we, consciously, attempt to ensure that the use of technologies and skills learned on our courses are used into the future by as many or our delegates as possible:
• Our training is subject rather than concept base. You come along to us to Learn to program in Python
and if you have to program 'back at the office', you'll have little choice but to apply these skill. But we help that along ...
• We ask each and every delegate about their background, and what they will be doing with the subject being learned, and we encourage each of them to bring their own data, tell us what their data looks like, do practical exercises which are relevant to them and are the first step of what they will be doing with the subject back in their office.
• We lecture. Then we demonstrate (and the demonstrations vary to be relevant for the particular delegates), then we set a practical. There's a cynical saying in training. "Tell them what you will tell them, tell them, then tell them what you have told them and they may remember it." But perhaps it's not all that cynical - it's reinforcement. There's no way that even the brightest of people can remember every work said throughout a 3 to 5 day course!
• We follow up. All examples from the notes are published on our web site, delegate's work is emailed back to them, and they can visit our forum
or archived previous forum
or email me later to ask questions. We even provide a web site form for ANYONE to use
to encourage people. The 'stiff British upper lip" style of "I won't want to trouble you" sometimes clicks in, and we remind delegates that we want them to ask; it's in our interest that they apply the subject and recommend others to us later, rather than forgetting us.
• We keep group sizes small - no more that 8 on a public course so that there is plenty of time for the tutor to deal with individual's specific needs in terms of subjects and pace.
• we encourage people to keep in touch via our blog
and my Twitter feed
. And to drop in and see us at the Hotel / training centre
With our infectious enthusiasm, our reinforcement, our real-use examples and our follow ups, we seem to do pretty well in the 'effectiveness' stakes, but we're always looking to improve on that. And I am humbly grateful that our topics are not 'blue sky concept' ones but things that are really useful and used by our delegates when they get back to their own desks. We're in an area of training which is naturally very effective indeed in the first place. (written 2009-03-30, updated 2009-03-31)
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