effective training

Splashing Out Critical Training:Can it Work?


 

Splashing Out Critical Training-Can it Work? 

When organizations need to change worker’s behavior quickly, they often drag everyone into the room for “mandatory training” for a long slide presentation and urgent messages about the needs of the business.  This approach to training means that we are “telling” people what to do, but not teaching them how to do it. Adult learners need some time and opportunity to apply new concepts, with activities, practice and reflection to deepen understanding, leading to the ability to perform the tasks when called upon.

Let’s compare two training efforts side by side so you can see the difference in effective training efforts. Let’s say the topic is how to speak with auditors in an upcoming critical facility inspection. The key to responding to questions by auditors is to be accurate, honest and concise.

 

Main Points of “Splash” Training (Telling) Main Points of Interactive Training (Teaching)
Slides about how to behave with an urgent appeal to act that way. After a brief overview, students practice answering questions by partner students asking tough questions.
A reminder of how critical a good audit result and examples of questions that may be asked with ideal answers. A high level expert auditor demonstrates, observes, corrects and coaches the group of students.
Students are advised on how to speak to auditors: Accurately, honestly, and concisely. Leaders continue the practice on the job, asking tough questions and grading learners for accurate, honest and concise answers.
What Happened During the Audit? What Happened During the Audit?
Students are understandably nervous when auditors ask questions. Some speak far too much, while some, too little. The leaders stood to the side wringing their hands while listening to the awkward answers that often did not answer the question, or worse, revealed too much. When the auditors come in, the learners are ready. The auditors get a strong impression that the workforce is competent, well trained and honestly doing their best to make a quality product. Leaders observe confidence in speaking with auditors and bask in the positive comments about their talent.

 

Let’s examine the impact of both training efforts. This table summarizes the effectiveness of the training using four standard levels of training effectiveness, first described by Donald Kirkpatrick in 1954.

“Splash” Training Effort

Effectiveness of Auditor Prep Training- According to the Kirkpatrick Scale of Effectiveness
Level 1 Did the learners like the training? We do not know, we didn’t gather feedback.
Level 2 Did the student learn the training content? We do not know, we didn’t test or observe them in class.
Level 3 Did the students use what we taught them? No, a number of operators talked too much or too little.
Level 4 Did this training help the business? No, the auditors had a poor opinion of learners’ cooperation and uncovered more problems

Interactive Teaching Effort

Effectiveness of Auditor Prep Training- According to the Kirkpatrick Scale of Effectiveness
Level 1 Did the learners like the training? Feedback was positive about the instructors and practice
Level 2 Did the student learn the training content? Observers noted improved skills in class and on the job.
Level 3 Did the students use what we taught them? Yes, learners were accurate, honest and concise.
Level 4 Did this training help the business? Yes, we had positive feedback and a shorter audit overall.

The “splash” approach to training means that we are “telling” people what to do, but not teaching them how to do it. Adult learners need some time and opportunity to apply new concepts, with activities, practice and reflection to deepen understanding, leading to the ability to perform the tasks when called upon.  Purposeful practice of new skills in the job setting is just as important as the training in the class session itself. Research shows us that even if students have a positive classroom experience, this does not predict whether the new skills will be used in the job. That is why it is so critical to get leaders involved in training efforts.

Leaders assign the work: They have all the power. They can either allow the learning to fade away to nothing through a lack of use, or to zoom performance up to the intended level, so that it sticks permanently. So how can you help leaders to do the right things so that learners apply what they are learning?

  1. Start leaders thinking early: What will the new behavior look like and how can you assign learners to perform that behavior? For example, are you sending students to a Technical Writing class? Then assign them to write specific technical documents.
  2. Set expectations for learners so they know what they are to do with the new skills. “Student, go to this technical writing class and draft an outline of the new standard operating procedure on avoiding scrap losses.
  3. Find some measures that will indicate to the business that training is working and worth it. For example: what is the current state on losses due to scrap?
  4. Shout out the results. “We reduced the amount of scrapped raw materials by 25% and scrapped product by 18%!

Now here is the best part: When you work with leaders, students and instructors to design an effective course, you all get to take the credit. How many Human Resources and Learning and Development out there can say they consistently show a positive return on investment to the business after training? In my experience, far, too few. In my opinion, showing how you contribute to the bottom line after training efforts is of paramount importance. The field of Human Resources and Training is in serious need of credibility, and there is nothing like dollars and cents to give top leadership the confidence that you are bringing value with training. The solution? Learn more about making training effective. You can take credit for the guidance and facilitation of a training process that likely wouldn’t have worked without your intervention.

 

Contact Katy Caselli for The Ultimate Building Giants Workshop for leaders, or Train the Trainer courses for your subject matter experts. Here is the Building Giants Catalog.

Katy is the author of Building Giants: A Proven System to Transform Your Workforce Through Effective Training.

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