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How Do You Motivate Trainees to Attend A Training Program?

March 14, 2016 15:04 by
annie_spratt_peaks

Photo credit: Annie Spratt, published under CC.

Poor attendance can be countered by motivating trainees to attend your training program. Anika Agarwal, a senior L&D specialist, recently sparked a lively discussion on LinkedIn, centered around this pressing issue. Here are the most actionable highlights from that discussion.

What’s in It for Me?

“Motivation needs to come from within, not outside – there shouldn’t be external pressure but an internal need for individuals to seek out that which can benefit them.”

- Dave Smith, senior IT trainer

A very powerful way to get people interested is by answering the question “What’s in it for me?”. Naresh Sen, a L&D manager, suggests showing employees how a training may affect their personal and professional lifes: “What Is In For Me has to be clearly articulated by aligning training with performance improvement, performance evaluation, career planning and Individual Development Planning. Employees not knowing the area of impact both in personal and professional will not find the importance and interest in training.”

Photo credit: Annie Spratt, published under CC.

Photo credit: Annie Spratt, published under CC.

Sell Your Training

Take a good look at the title of your training. “Standard bookish titles put off people”, says Vaman Gaitonde, a behavioral trainer specialized in corporate training and coaching.

So, start selling your training to employees by creating a compelling title. For instance, address a specific problem that really resonates. Once you’ve grabbed their attention, spark their interest by briefly stating how your training will solve their problem. Create a desire to actually participate in the training by mentioning the benefits, or outcomes, of your training. And finally, include a call to action: ask them to sign up right now, and give them a phone number, email address and website.

Arsalan Tahir, program manager at a training company, summarizes this as the “AIDA” model:

  • Attention
  • Interest
  • Desire
  • Action

Kantesh Kumar Singh, CEO of Commuway, offers a wise analogy: “Keep in mind that employees are just like our customers, and we need to analyse their needs and problems and offer them solutions and resolutions. If we do this, it makes good sense to understand that employers will run behind us if we create hungers in their minds by showing the target of what they are and what they should be.”

Photo credit: Annie Spratt, published under CC.

Photo credit: Annie Spratt, published under CC.

Create A Rich And Engaging Training Experience

Says Snehal, an experienced instructional designer: “As far as training content is concerned, it needs to be relevant for the learners. Using a variety of ways to deliver the content such as case studies, scenarios, real life examples, exercises and analogies would help in maintaining interest and focus of learners. If possible, create small, digestible learning nuggets as opposed to long hours courses. Also recognizing and rewarding the course accomplishments of employees in some way would help in motivating the employees.”

Monica Cornetti, CEO at Sententia, adds: “Have you considered gamifying the training program? Let them map out their skill development and steps towards mastery. Show them progress of their journey. Set up a system of SAPS – (Status, Access, Power and Stuff) Interestingly the SAPS list is prioritized by stickiness and cheapness to fulfill.”

“I’m So Senior, I don’t Need Training”

Enlist employees who think they don’t need training as mentors or subject matter experts.

Melissa Coon, staff development leader, relates: “I know in a group of Salespeople that have been with a company or in their roles for a long time, they let ego get in the way many times. If the training program is presented to them (advertised) as a way to make their life easier or increase income or even in a way that it is a call to help the team as a mentor -for showing off their expertise for best practices to newer colleagues- with an opportunity to showcase their talent for promotion consideration; then the response will be greater. It is all about perception that determines the engagement and interest to participate.”

Photo credit: Annie Spratt, published under CC.

Photo credit: Annie Spratt, published under CC.

Conclusion

We wrap it up with the wise words of Matt Lohmeyer, professional negotiator and trainer:

“In the end, training has to make a meaningful difference to someone’s life and performance at work long-term. Unfortunately, a lot of training that is offered fails that basic test. However, if you can run a training program that changes the way people engage and delivers benefits to them as a result – you won’t struggle with attendee motivation. Word of mouth will soon have people wanting to come onto the program. One of the challenges we sometimes have with HR managers is that our negotiation skills programs become so popular, everybody wants to get onto it and the HR team then has to make the tough choices and prioritise…”

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Teach Your Organization How To Use Training

February 15, 2016 15:03 by
Photo credit: Annie Spratt, published under CC.

Photo credit: Annie Spratt, published under CC.

As a trainer you are uniquely qualified and positioned to teach your organization how to use training. Here’s a brief outline of what you can do to make training work, followed by a set of actionable tips & tools.

  1. Convince the organization that training based on needs analysis is actually useful because it adds to the bottom line.
  2. Create successful training by tapping into existing knowledge (engage role models and resident domain experts).
  3. Prove that your training has changed behavior by establishing a pre-training baseline and doing a post-training evaluation.
  4. Provide the means to put the training into practice, for instance with reminders and micro-interventions.
  5. Organize follow-up training which can be triggered by expiring certificates or even yearly tests.

The greatest success you can achieve for your organization, as a trainer, is to create a learning organization. A learning organization does all of the above, and more: it is continually improving itself with the goal of remaining competitive (or relevant and effective, if you’re not a commercial enterprise). It does so by acknowledging that learning for the most part takes place informally, on the job. Your role is to teach the organization how to kickstart a transformation into a learning organization.

Let’s dive into the tips & tools you can use for kickstarting that transformation.

Photo credit: kazuend, published under CC.

Photo credit: kazuend, published under CC.

Needs Analysis Tools

A need analysis starts by identifying which competencies are required to meet the business goals. Use software to store the required competencies for each role in the organization. A learning management system (or lms for short) is ideal for this because it will also help you identify the employees’ current shortcomings or deficiencies in skill and knowledge levels with regard to each competency. You do that by creating tests for one or more competencies. The lms allows you to view the scores on the tests in terms of the competencies. This means you’ll end up with a test results which should show you exactly what training is actually needed, in terms of the business goals.

For instance, if one of the business goals is to generate more leads for the sales department, then a required competency for the marketing department may be “conduct a direct marketing email campaign”. You can measure their ability to conduct such a campaign by asking a few simple questions, in a test, about the tools they’d typically use for such a job (e.g. Infusionsoft). If the test shows that they’re currently not up to the job, then you know more training is required to meet the goal of generating more leads.

Photo credit: kazuend, published under CC.

Photo credit: kazuend, published under CC.

Create Successful Training

A successful training convinces the participants to change their behavior. One way to that is to use role models. A professional with an impressive track record may be such a role model for the participants. Ideally, you’d like to have the professional conduct the actual training sessions. But usually the most successful individuals don’t have time for that. Instead, try to have them show up at least once – with a success story of course – or, failing even that, get them to participate in an online Q & A, using a discussion forum. In much the same way, try to engage domain experts while designing the training. Get them involved in setting up a wiki or a knowledge base.

Prove That Your Training Has Changed Behavior

As I said before, you can establish a base line of knowledge and skills by using online tests. Using an lms (learning management system) you can conduct the online tests in non-intrusive manner, without causing too many empty seats on the workfloor. Once your participants are used to the idea of online tests, you can follow up each training session with an online test. This creates data to improve your training, increasing the chances of success. After the training has run its course, do some more comprehensive testing, linked in to the competencies you defined earlier. If all went well, you should see a noticeable improvement.

Photo credit: Annie Spratt, published under CC.

Photo credit: Annie Spratt, published under CC.

A few months after the training, you could also invite co-workers and managers for a 360 degrees feedback assessment of the participants. This gives you data on how much of the training has stuck and to what extent the newly acquired skills and knowledge are applied on the job: the transfer-of-training issue. It would also be great if you could keep the role models and domain experts involved.

Provide The Means to Put The Training into Practice

You can’t just sit on your hands when it comes to the transfer-of-training issue. The traditional means to increase transfer-of-training are distributing mugs, mouse pads and leaflets which summarize the most important take-aways. Those are all great, but you can do better than that, nowadays. Use your lms to send out nuggets of advice to your participants’ smartphones. Keep testing participants and automatically suggest remedial training through your lms if necessary. Record a video interview with role models. Often times, they’ll provide the inspiration needed to stick with the new way of doing things. The implicit message here is: “If you want to be as successful as I am, you need to apply your training on the job.” If your test data show that most participants have adapted the new way of doing things, you can share that data with everyone to convince the laggards to better their ways.

And by the way, even if training really didn’t work on a practical level – i.e. participants do not actually learn anything they can apply on the job – it would still improve their sense of self worth. “I am important enough to invest in”, that’s the message the company sends out to you if they allow you to train. Improved self worth leads to higher employee satisfaction which in turn leads to increased productivity.

Organize Follow-up Training

Photo credit: Noah Baslé, published under CC.

Photo credit: Noah Baslé, published under CC.

Keep a good thing going: organize follow-up training. You could use yearly tests to filter out people who need this. Or you could use certificates of limited validity to trigger refreshers. Both can be automated using, again, your lms. This means employees automatically receive an email once they’re up for a refresher course. You can even send an text message (sms, for Europeans) to alert them that the training is due next Monday.

Hopefully you’ve come away with a few good ideas from reading this post. Please share your own thoughts in the comments!

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8 Team Building Exercises Used with Great Success

January 28, 2016 16:04 by
frosted_straw

Photo credit: Natasha Vasiljeva, published under CC.

Team building exercises are the meat and potatoes of many training sessions. We have selected 8 exercises that trainers all over the world are using with great success.

1. Shipwrecked, or Lost on A Deserted Island

You are marooned on a deserted island. You, as a team, get to take 7 items with you (or more, depending on the team size). Which will they be? To simplify things, the trainer could provide a long list of items to each team to choose from. Each team writes down their list of items and gets to present and defend their choices. This exercise brings out the team’s core values in the open and provides an insight into the problem solving modes of each team.

2. Building A City

open_fire1

Photo credit: Natasha Vasiljeva, published under CC.

Split your team into smaller groups. Each group makes a drawing of a building (school, post office, fire department, etc.). Then present the entire group with a huge sheet of paper which they have to use to put together a whole city. This exercise lets a team work together towards a common goal.

3. Puzzle Mania

Each team has tabletop puzzle what they must solve first to win a prize. However, unbeknownst to the teams, they all have a piece of another team’s puzzle. The teams have to cooperate in order to win. This makes for a great debriefing session.

Photo credit: Natasha Vasiljeva, published under CC.

Photo credit: Natasha Vasiljeva, published under CC.

4. Towering Spaghetti

Each team builds a tower out of (uncooked) spaghetti, using tape or elastic bands (or both). The team with the tallest tower wins. After the first round, encourage the teams to reconsider their design and make another attempt. In the debrief, examine the reflective practices of each team.

5. Back-to-Back Drawing

Divide the group into pairs. Each pair stands back to back. One person has a picture of geometric figure or a relatively simple shape, but they are not allowed to name it. The other person has a sheet of paper and a pen. The person holding the picture must describe it, while the other person makes a drawing. After a limited time, compare the outcomes of each team.

6. Magic Carpet

open_fire2

Photo credit: Natasha Vasiljeva, published under CC.

The team (about six members) stands on a (small) carpet. The objective is to turn over the carpet completely, without stepping off the carpet, without leaning on furniture or against the wall, etc.. If one person touches the floor, the team has to start over again. All teams start at the same time, they all get 5 minutes to plan, before they can start moving (they’re not allowed to lift the carpet during these 5 minutes). The team that finishes first wins a prize.

7. Minefield

Create an obstacle course in an empty room or hallway, using chairs, plastic bottles, styrofoam cups, etc.. Divide the group into pairs. One person is blindfolded, the other must verbally guide the blindfolded person through the “minefield” from the sideline.

Photo credit: Natasha Vasiljeva, published under CC.

Photo credit: Natasha Vasiljeva, published under CC.

8. Egg Drop

Each team has a set of construction materials such as plastic wrap, balloons, rope, paper, rubber band, tape. Their objective is to create a protective vessel or carrier for an egg. The teams drop their eggs from the second floor. If multiple eggs survive, increase the height until one winning team is left.

Have fun! 

Sources

Validated in a discussion of trainers on LinkedIn.

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