Engage your employees in the training process

Companies invest in employee training and talent development programs for one reason: to get results. The problem is that too often they see training as an “event” rather than a process, and they earn a miserable return on investment.

See if this rings true. You hire an outside consultant to conduct a two-day training session. Your expert trainer delivers a ton of value. Trainees give the session high marks. But a few weeks later you realize your people aren’t deploying the skills they were taught. You’re frustrated. Where are the results? Where is your return on investment?

[wcm_restrict]Well, it evaporated because the ‘fire hose’ training model that companies have used for decades doesn’t work. It’s efficient – you gather the whole team together for a single event that’s over in a couple days – but cramming massive amounts of information down people’s throats all at once is not effective, especially with today’s short-attention-span workforce.

So how can organizations provide soft-skills training that produces results and gets a high ROI? Part of the answer is “single-concept learning.” Single-concept learning is a training strategy that focuses on one compelling idea at a time. Instead of trying to deliver a comprehensive course on multiple topics, you teach your employees one skill designed to change one behavior and achieve one specific outcome.

You’ll get higher involvement in training – when employees know that a learning journey is narrowly defined and under 10 minutes, they’re more likely to engage in the process. And you’ll get higher knowledge retention – short, fast-paced training results in higher recall and makes it much easier for employees to loop back and revisit what they learned.

Sounds like a radical departure from traditional training, doesn’t it? In fact it’s a paradigm shift. The modern workforce, now nearly 50% millennials, absorbs information very differently from previous generations. They’re digital natives. Their brains have been rewired by the Internet. And they want to learn in short, disjointed bursts. Single-concept learning, often delivered as ‘short-form’ e-learning modules, is the ideal model for these workers.

It’s also ideal for managers, who in the past have often seen talent development as an overwhelming task. Single-concept learning makes training seem doable. Armed with bite-size coaching tools, even the busiest managers can find time to teach one narrowly defined skill and follow through to make it stick. And when they do, they start achieving small wins. As they accumulate small wins, they build success momentum and eventually acquire the skills of a competent talent developer.

So stop doing ‘fire hose’ training. Yes, it’s efficient. And yes, it gives your people a very brief jolt of energy. But knowledge retention is low and the benefit doesn’t last. Single-concept learning does work. People engage in it. They remember what they learned. And it’s easy for managers to follow up and make sure the learning is actually being deployed.[/wcm_restrict][wcm_nonmember]

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About the Author

Steve MeyerStephen Meyer is CEO of the Rapid Learning Institute, which provides bite-size e-learning to companies, nonprofits, educational institutions and government. Prior to starting the Rapid Learning Institute and its parent company Business 21 Publishing in 2002, Meyer was the Director of Publishing at The Hay Group, a leading HR, benefits and compensation consulting firm. At RLI he developed the model for six- to 10-minute “Quick Take” rapid learning modules. Meyer received his MBA from The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.

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