Turn Training and Development On Its Head

Article by Rich McLafferty, Principal, Architects of Change, Organizational Development Consultants, www.architectsofchange.co


Training programs should be engaging, and make material come alive in the classroom. By designing training where the participants are at the center of the program, you not only help to engage and motivate them to learn, you get a return on your training investment.


You Can’t Make People Learn


Let’s face it. We have all experienced training where we were “less than present” throughout the whole program. The reason this happens is because of how the program is designed.


A lot of trainers and instructional designers think that you can “push” information at learners, and it automatically “sticks” in their head. You say it – they learn it.


Presentation Software is a Crutch


When you throw in presentation software (PowerPoint for example) the design of the slides complicates the matter even further. If the slides are too complex the learner is either looking at a slide trying to read it, or listening to the presenter, but they can’t do both at the same time. Our minds don’t multitask (think of it like texting and driving a car – we can’t do that either) so we give up and shut down.


Not Everyone Learns the Same Way


Consider the three primary learning styles; visual, auditory, and kinesthetic. Each style has a distinct preference to effectively absorb information and learn. The visuals like to see things (images and color), the auditory group prefers listening and repeating to take in information, and the kinesthetic need to be doing something with what they are learning.


My observation over the years is that everyone has a bit of all three preferences, and that you can’t single one out for an entire training session. That’s why training by presentation software typically fails. It might be great for the visual learner (in theory), but nobody can sit for long before his or her mind starts to wander.


Get People Engaged


Getting people involved in their own learning is the answer. It’s easy to do, and the result is very powerful. It takes a mind shift on both the instructional designer, as well as the trainer. The shift is from pushing information in, to pulling information out. Adults come to a class with a lot of experience and background that needs to be acknowledged, as well as applied throughout a training program.


The trainer / facilitator’s job at that point is “pull out” the collective experience and background, make links to it throughout the session, and guide the learners to the destination (the learning objectives).


The Classroom as a Playground


Now, imagine a classroom where there are pictures, color, music, chairs clustered in groups, flip charts, pens, crayons, and various colored markers. The classroom resembles an art class or something similar that inspires creativity and innovation. The classroom and training design has something for everyone (visual, auditory, and kinesthetic).


The facilitator is present to take people on an interactive journey by asking thoughtful questions, encouraging debate and discussion, capturing important thoughts in writing… and literally guiding the group to their destination.


There are activities throughout the day that help learners discover, or re-discover the joy of learning in a classroom. They work together in teams to create solutions, answer questions, present findings, or have time to reflect on their own. Most important, they have the time and environment to learn from each other. Their minds are present and involved.


With a bit of planning, creativity, and innovation you can design a training program and classroom where people thrive, and time flies by.


Sausalito-based Rich McLafferty offers expertise in helping organizations design and implement simple, non-traditional, common sense “people” development strategies that improve communication, leadership, teamwork, employee and brand engagement. See: www.architectsofchange.co