There are several important areas that employees should be trained in, such as human resources, management, sales, project management, etc. However, employees who receive training for project management skills and manage to apply their learning effectively are unquestionably the most important assets of the companies they work in.
Effective Employee Training: The principles
The biggest misconception about employee training and development is that only trainers need to understand how employees learn. In reality, it is equally important for managers, supervisors, line managers, and team leaders to know how their team members learn.
Managers and supervisors are the ones who analyze employee performance and this is one way they can increase productivity. They must have deeper insight like how their team members learn, what kind of skills they require for performing well, and which areas require improvement.
Below are 7 learning principles that must be considered when planning a training program for employees.
Key Learning Principles for Employee Training
1. Learning Is an Active Process
The majority of workplaces today expect their employees to learn by simply memorizing the concepts and data that is shared with them, irrespective of whether it is presented verbally or in black and white.
Ulrich Boser, the author of the book Learn Better: Mastering the Skills for Success in Life, Business, and School, says that this approach towards employee learning and training is totally ineffective. He and his fellow team members emphasize that learning is an active process and the best way you can help the trainees learn is via engagement.
An easy way this can be done is by using the ‘retrieval method’ where learners are asked to briefly explain and summarize the training’s key takeaways. This can either be done verbally or in writing.
2. Understanding the Impact of Past Knowledge and Experiences
Another learning principle in training and development is understanding the impact of past experiences. The way a person perceives anything that is shared with them largely depends on what they know and have experienced in the past.
The twist here is that prior knowledge and past experience can be both a blessing and a curse. It can be a blessing because experience and knowledge make it easier for learners to quickly grasp concepts or information that is being shared. On the flip side, it is a curse because the same knowledge and experience can become a hurdle when they are learning and exploring new concepts. This is because learners tend to reject new concepts if they differ from what they have experienced before.
In the latter case, learners often end up confused between what they learn and what they have experienced. They find themselves stuck between what is right and what is not and ultimately go off track.
3. Learning Does Not Mean Bombarding a Lot of Information At Once
This is a very important principle in training and development. A lot of trainers leave trainees frustrated by sharing a lot of information at once. This mistake not only disengages learners and leaves them discouraged but also ends up wasting all the effort, money, and time invested in the training program.
The part of our brain that focuses on short-term memory can rapidly get exhausted and fail to store any of the information that is shared if it is presented in large chunks. Therefore, to make the most of your investment and enable learners to learn, topics that are vast should be broken down into smaller sub-topics for discussion.
This is one reason why microlearning has become a popular learning technique across the world.
4. Learners Always Think They Know More Than They Actually Do
Trainers should always remember that learners like to believe they know a lot more than they really do, which is completely natural. As a trainer, you will often find out a couple of people in your advanced training sessions who lack basic knowledge. Letting such people enroll and attend training that is not suitable for them will waste your training budget in addition to keeping the deserving candidates deprived of the opportunity.
That said, trainers must consider finding a way that allows them to shortlist the right candidates. This can be easily done by conducting mini-quizzes or short interviews.
5. Feedback Is Extremely Important
Most learners find judging their current knowledge and abilities difficult. Similarly, they can come to the wrong conclusions while giving themselves feedback. This is where the role of trainers and educators comes in. They need to ensure that the learners are provided detailed but constructive feedback that is essential for their learning and development.
6. Retention of What Has Been Learned
The sixth learning principle on this list that encourages high-impact learning is focusing on the importance of activities that help learners to remember what they have learned.
At most times, what we have learned gets forgotten if it’s not revised, converted into an experience, or remembered via association with something else. This is a very typical problem but brings a lot of frustration to both trainers and learners.
However, to tackle this issue, trainers can always include an activity in the training plan that helps the learners retain what they have learned. Alternatively, if the trainers happen to interact with learners on a daily basis, they should make it a point to remind them of the key takeaways time and again. More training sessions can be arranged on the same subject after a few months of the initial training to ensure that training objectives have been fully met and to increase the learner's retention.
7. Creating a Nontoxic and Relaxed Learning Environment
You can’t expect a person to learn in an environment that is unsafe, toxic, and uncomfortable. Research proves that the environment where people learn has a direct impact on their minds, bodies, and their ability to learn. The best trainers are those who take this learning principle into account and ensure creating an environment that encourages learning.
8. Discussing the Bigger Picture
By ‘bigger picture’, we mean the ultimate goals and objectives that you are seeking to achieve by the end of a training program. Trainers should try to discuss these objectives in the very start so that the learners can learn in the right direction.
Every learner attending a training session must be aware of what they are going to be taught, the ultimate goal of the training, and the practical application or importance of the lessons learned.
9. Focus on Practical Learning
Trainers should focus on practical learning by using scenarios. This is a learning principle that, when implemented efficiently, allows learners to better understand concepts that are shared with them. It creates a link between training topics and real-life scenarios. This way, learners not only learn quickly and easily but also retain shared information well.
10. Allow Socializing
The final learning principle in training and development that you should remember is to allow socializing in training. This goes hand-in-hand with the learning principle number 7 on this list.
Indeed, not everyone is a social butterfly. Some people are fond of socializing with like-minded people and seek opportunities to do so while others are not. There will both introverts and extroverts in your training sessions. Regardless, it is a great idea to incorporate activities in training that allows socializing as it makes the learning environment more relaxed, friendly, and comfortable.
All of the above-given learning principles are very helpful in designing training programs that are effective and successful.
This is what we address next. Let’s look at the benefits of effective training.
Benefits of Effective Employee Training
1. Superior Performance
This is one thing that all businesses, both big and small, strive for. Superior employee performance is something that helps companies accomplish all their goals including business growth.
Training enables employees to learn how they can perform their jobs better, ultimately saving them from getting frustrated and increasing motivation to work. All of this contributes to business growth.
2. Helping Employees to Counteract Weaknesses
Employees who have just joined professional life are often lacking in certain areas due to lack of experience. In such cases, effective training can help improve their performance. This improvement not only benefits companies but also helps employers to further motivate their employees by associating performance-based rewards and recognizing employee efforts. It’s a win-win!
3. Clear Expectations
Effective training allows easy communication of expectations. For example, in an employee training setup, the topics can include company policies, goals, and objectives that employees are expected to abide, remember, and work for.
This is important because it reduces the chances of confusion, motivates employees, and enables them to work in the right direction. It also reduces the chances of errors, hence resulting in peace of mind for the management.
4. Innovation and Progress
Training that is planned considering the learning principles that are discussed above encourages the learners to be creative. It also allows employers to adopt new technologies without fear as employees can easily learn to utilize new techniques and technologies through training.
The benefits of effective online training can’t be emphasized enough in words.
To believe in the significance of learning principles into conducting effective training and employee training you have to try it!