Tuesday, February 28, 2017

A Trainer's Perspective on Making Corporate Training More Productive

For quite some time now, we have been focusing on how to make corporate training better. In a recent blog post, we spoke about making compliance training fun. Continuing on the same lines, today we are going to explore how to make compliance, and rather, all internal training more interesting for employees. We would explore the first-hand experience of a customer (Name Confidential) on how she made training more interesting for her organization’s employees. For the sake of remembrance, let’s call this customer Miss T.
Why T? Well, I could have called her A, B, C, or any other alphabet, but since T could very well stand for Trainer, let’s go ahead and see what Miss T had to share. Oh, and by the way, Miss T is responsible for building and delivering internal training programs at a global publishing house.

Me: How important is compliance training within your organization?
Miss T: Internally, our compliance training is very important, from the Board Chairman! The CEO! The President! And all the way down to everyday employees. Sometimes it is tied to our employment, sometimes to our goals, and sometimes assigned by HR, which holds our managers responsible for our completion. 

Me: What is the downside if employees are not fully engaged when they undergo compliance training? 
Miss T: If employees are disengaged, but technically fulfilling the requirement of being present for the training, they risk not learning the important lesson. For instance, some rules in our annual ethics training that breaking just once is not a warning for an employee, it is termination.
In the corporate culture, we have engagement issue like everyone else. Actively disengaged employees pull down the team. I’ve read that it takes four engaged employees to cancel out the bad effects of just one disengaged employee. What I see is social pressure to conform, to pay attention, to be mindful, and to try hard. 

Me: How has the response to your compliance and other internal training been?  
Miss T: My biggest success is when I only train one person and assign that person to train two people. That focus ensures that my one person is paying total attention. They want to train the other two successfully, too, as they have just demonstrated they are ready for a more managerial role. I have, in effect, discovered the team’s motivation—the ‘What’s in it for me’ question—and it’s their career. When I tie the training to their career, employees give their undivided attention. 
Before that, my success rate was half and half. For some companies, that’s a great response! I think the norm is closer to 10%. I realized that the employees interpreted the training as demos—suggestions—and, while I built a bond with them, the training was not retained. 

Me: Have you experimented with any strategies to make your training more interesting or fun? 
Miss T: When we have offered prizes, held contests, the results were disappointing. My goal since then has been to make employees laugh to make the training memorable, also to get them to start talking and feel easier about asking a question. I once used a theme of dessert treats so they couldn’t wait to see the next slide, plus they knew I knew they were hungry as the training was before lunch. I also ensure that my training content is visually appealing and highly interactive.

So these were some interesting strategies that Miss T employs for making training a little less boring and a lot more productive. Do you have any unique ideas deployed at your workplace that improved your training? Do share them below.

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