So you think you can train?
This article appears in the July/August 2014 issue of Business Franchise Australia & New Zealand
Simple but effective steps to deliver training with impact!
Most of us need to put on our ‘trainers hat’ from time to time. The challenge of training, whether it be of staff, franchisees or colleagues, is keeping it fresh and effective. Research shows that best learning takes place when it is enjoyable and experiential.
Following are some simple processes that will help you to train with impact and ensure the learning ‘sticks’ and translates into improved performance.
Learning principles for adult learners
In planning a training session, it’s important to acknowledge that adults learn differently from children. Avoid a training environment which revives memories of old-fashioned top down, ‘chalk and talk’.
Here are some principles to keep in mind when training adult learners.
• Recognise and respect prior knowledge and experience. Take time prior to your session to learn something of the background and relevant experience of members of the group. Ask a few questions upfront when you start training to discover more about your learners. Also where possible, use the knowledge of people in the group so it becomes two-way learning.
• Keep the learning relevant to their goals and needs. Adults learn best when they understand why a new skill or knowledge is important to them, their goals and their work. Spending a few minutes to discuss this will go a long way to capture their interest and motivation.
• Keep in practical. Your training will have lasting results if you keep it real, practical and hands-on. The stronger the connection of your training to the real world, the more lasting the impact. Use the workplace as your training room, use actual tools and equipment, so learners experience the real thing during training.
Put your learners into a COMA
At the start of a session avoid rushing straight into teaching the nitty-gritty of the skill or knowledge you wish to impart. Learners need some time to understand what’s about to take place and prepare themselves for the process.
The COMA model is a good basis for setting up an effective training session.
C = CONTEXT
It’s important for learners to identify how your training session fits into broader context. How does it relate and connect with other training you have conducted or planned for them? How is it relevant to their job? All this can be achieved by explaining the context of your session. You could even draw a jigsaw or mud map to illustrate how this piece of training connects with all the others bits in their role. (Your learners love visuals by the way!) This is a simple component, quick to achieve but important for all learners to understand.
O = OBJECTIVES
What do you want your learners to achieve by the end of your session? What behaviours are you hoping them to develop? Do your learners know what these are? Tell them! Setting and sharing training objectives or ‘outcomes’ with the group is essential or them to understand the goal of their session. Frame these in simple, clear terms so you can check back at the end of your session, measure their effectiveness and establish if your learners achieved what was expected of them.
M = MOTIVATION
This is the old “What’s in it for me?” Why should your learners go through this training? What are the benefits to them, their work, their customers and the business? You can help participants discover their motivation for learning by asking them open questions such as “How will you benefit by successfully completing this training today?” and the flip side, “What could be the possible consequences of not learning this skill or not knowing this information?” Take a few minutes to ask these questions and discuss their responses. You’ll find it makes a big difference to their motivation to learn.
A = ASSESS
Ask a few questions upfront to find out more about the group members and what they bring to your training. All adult learners will bring some prior knowledge and experience into the learning environment. It’s powerful to find out about this and incorporate it into your training. Has someone done training in this area previously? Do you have some ‘experts’ in this skill already in your session? Or do all your learners have little knowledge or experience in what you are about to train them? This is critical information to know before you get deep into your training session.
Four training steps from my favourite nursery rhyme
Once everyone’s in a COMA, you’re ready to get into the heart of your training session. If you’re training in a physical skill, task or behaviour, there’s a simple surefire 4-Step technique you can follow to ensure your learners successfully complete the task at hand.
These are based on an old English nursery rhyme; “I do it normal, I do it slow, you do it with me, then off you go!”
NORMAL. In the first step, demonstrate the skill or task at normal speed without explanation. Let your learners know you’re about to demonstrate the skill from start to finish, without describing what you’re doing or the steps involved. The benefit of doing it ‘normal’ is the learners see the task in real time and to the standard expected. Watching a demonstration as close to how the task is completed in the workplace is a powerful learning technique as this sets the expected competency for the skill.
SLOW. Once you’ve demonstrated the skill once, do it again, this time explaining each step as you go. Take your time to clearly show the technique and key points to completing each part of the skill. Explain any important safe handling points (especially if you’re in the food game) and let the group know why each part of the process is important in the overall task. This step will typically take the longest of the 4 Steps as you take the time to cover off every part of the process.
WITH ME. In the third step, the group now get hands-on and completes the skill alongside you. Ideally you will have enough materials and equipment for each person to complete the task. (If not, split them into pairs or small groups). With your encouragement and assistance allow the learners to carry out the skill, following your instructions and at a slower pace. Keep an eye on their progress – provide feedback, direction and support to help them complete the skill to the required standard. You can even quiz them on the steps, by asking “What do we do next?”; “Why is that step important to the overall task?” and “What safety points do we need to remember at this stage?”
OFF YOU GO! After step 3 has been successfully completed by all learners to the required standard, it’s time to let them do it again, but without any assistance or input from yourself. This is where real training takes place, as that is what is ultimately required in the workplace. Let them go and carry out the task. If you do need to step in and provide corrective feedback or support, that takes them back to step 3, and you should encourage them to repeat it on their own to be sure they can carry out the skill competently.
Following the 4-Steps, you might like to do some ‘overlearning’ by asking them all to complete the skill one more time and make it a competition or race between them. This will allow you to observe their ability to complete the task under a bit of time pressure. Or you could conduct a quiz challenge, breaking them into small teams and you as Quiz Master question them about the task or skill. Learners love a bit of competition and it injects some fun into your training. We all learn more effectively when we are enjoying the process.
Keep the learning going
Learning doesn’t end at the conclusion of your training session. Keep the learning going by conducting follow-up activities in the workplace. As learners apply their new skills on the job, they will benefit from ongoing encouragement and constructive feedback. After all mistakes are a natural part of the learning process. If you’ve done your job well as a trainer, you probably won’t need follow up training or to conduct the session again with the same people.
So whether you need to train regularly, or just every now and then, following these simple techniques will really pay off. There are no real secrets here, just effective steps you can use when you need to put your trainer’s hat on and achieve the greatest return from your time and efforts.
Rob Camm is a Learning Strategist and Events Manager with the Franchise Relationships Institute. He regularly designs and delivers training programs with impact for franchisees and franchisor executives.
Rob can be contacted at: