A few weeks ago I was exchanging messages via LinkedIn with someone who had reached out to connect with me. As she began sharing more about her work, it was obvious she had a story to tell. Following is a guest post from Betty Dannewitz, who generously offered to share her experiences with the Train Like a Champion community. Be sure to share your thoughts about this case study with her in the comment section.
We know how the story goes.
Step 1: Trainee hears about a great class.
Step 2: Trainee shows up ready to learn.
Step 3: Trainee loves the class and soaks up all the knowledge like a sponge.
Step 4: Trainee leaves class excited and energized.
Step 5: After class, all content falls out of trainee’s head.
Step 6: Trainee does nothing with the new skill set.
Step 7: Cycle repeats.
Techniques to Get Training to Stick
How do we stop the madness? How do we make training stick? How can we help them remember? We have all asked these exact questions.
I love my job. I get to teach people life skills – like how to have a crucial conversation and emotional intelligence and why it is so important – basically, I get to teach people how to be better humans. One thing I mention in every class is that training is just the beginning of their learning on these topics. It’s meant to give them a base from which they can grow their skills after class. This seems challenging for many because when you leave class, the adrenaline rush of learning something new leaves you. On top of that, we are all busier than ever and that makes it easy to ignore the accountability required to retain new concepts. Although we are ultimately responsible for our own development, without additional prompting, it’s easy to forget to come back and continue learning.
So I decided to do something about it. I brainstormed with a colleague around how we can create a way for folks to get the information back in front of them after they’ve left the session. I wanted to make sure it was something fun, interesting and something they would look forward to attending. We came up with a three-pronged approach.
I created a quick hit email with articles and hot tips on how they can continue to learn about and use the skills they got from the class. I refresh the content and update the audience about every 45-60 days and send it again. I know we all get way too much email. But email is still an effective tool to get information in front of people. Whether or not they use it is on them, but we can provide the reinforcement for those that choose to use it.
Skill Practice Sessions
I wanted to create a way for folks to actually get together, network, and deliberately practice their skills. So I set up a lunch and learn session each quarter. In the session, I cover just a portion of the course material, making sure to offer up reminders as well as new and fresh perspectives on the information. We also watch a video or two and participate in some quizzing.
Apps like Fitbit and Apple Health are all over this concept. You get badges as you take steps and make progress on workouts and other assorted endeavors to help spur you on to do more. Why not incorporate badges in training, to get folks to remember and want to keep learning and maintain their skill set? In this spirit, I created something called an Ambassador – someone who has completed the training, attended the skill practice sessions and is now ready to be a mentor in the skill set. Ambassadors get a badge in our internal Sharepoint community group. This provides a safe place to share and creates a feeling of an elite community among the members.
And guess what? They love it! Participants replied back to the emails with comments that they like and appreciate the touch-base and topics. The first skill practice session had about 15 people that willingly showed up and had a great time participating. And folks want to be Ambassadors. They are working to get that coveted status and to teach others what they have learned. Ultimately, the participants’ behaviors are changing.
A friend of mine once said, “Learning, training and teaching are designed to modify behavior. If it doesn’t do that, we are simply practicing the art of speaking to ourselves with an audience.”
Thanks to Betty for sharing this case study. What are your techniques to get training to stick?