Effective training should keep employees engaged!

In my last posting I affirmed that managers and supervisors can — and will — become better bosses if given proper training. Since HR professionals are called upon to perform a variety of training sessions, this seems like as good a time as any to clarify just what “proper training” looks like.

Ever heard the old proverb “Tell me and I’ll forget; show me and I may remember; involve me and I’ll understand”?  When it’s up to me, training sessions do not involve endless hours of PowerPoint slides and lecturing. Relying solely on those “tell me” methods will not only put your trainees to sleep, but it will waste everybody’s time as the material presented is sure to be quickly forgotten – if it’s heard at all.

The most effective training will engage the trainees and involve them throughout the session. (Don’t get me wrong. It will probably involve some PowerPoint too. But, like medicine, you want to use it in small doses, only as needed.)

Here are some simple strategies and proven methods that are worth considering before you tackle your next training session:

  • Attendees – Include employees from every level of the organization whenever possible. If it is appropriate, mix them together for exercises and discussions. This is a great opportunity for all levels to learn of and from each other.
  • Presenters – If financially feasible, engage with a qualified, competent third party to conduct the training. Most companies agree that employees prefer an outsider. Not just for variety, but for the freedom to ask questions without fear of reprisal.
  • Quizzing – Intermittent quizzing (“show of hands” or “shout out the answer”) is a great tool in training sessions. It keeps trainees engaged, generates discussion, and will give you a better “read” of your audience.  Are they tracking with you? Does some point need more clarification?  Why not make it fun. Have a stash of inexpensive “giveaways” on hand. Toss the prizes to the first correct answer. It doesn’t matter what the prize is. It just keeps the session lively.
  • Role playing, exercises and workshops – Training sessions should be full of interactive learning that reinforces or illustrates the concepts being taught. Granted, some of your trainees may roll their eyes when they hear “role playing”. But don’t let that stop you. Interactive exercises can be very effective tools to keep them engaged and force them to think through possible applications of the concepts presented.
  • PowerPoint Presentations – If you must use PowerPoint slides, consider using them only for posting the main topics or topic outlines.
  • Breaks — for shorter sessions (just an hour or two), have coffee and juice in the room. For longer meetings, be sure to offer brief breaks for bathroom and snacks. Don’t expect trainees to sit still for more than two hours at a time.
  • Be Ready — Know your topic! Be ready to answer questions and speak freely. As much as possible, stick to your outline (i.e., avoid rabbit trails and tangents). However, be flexible if discussion uncovers an area that needs attention but was not included in your outline.

It is worth seeking out an engaging professional who is an expert on the subject being trained. Once you find them, laminate that business card and keep it in a safe place! Like a favorite outfit, they’ll make you look good, and you will want to go back to them again and again.

ECRM has many qualified trainers who are experts in a variety of areas including safety, risk management, environmental management, claims and human resources.

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