Today’s Tip is based on a question that Sarah Schenkat of Badgerland Financial asked after a recent workshop on Taking the Pain out of Task Analysis for SMES. Thank you, Sarah!
“When you make a commitment to a relationship, you invest your attention and energy in it more profoundly because you now experience ownership of that relationship.”Barbara De Angelis
A training program will be more successful if the participants are committed to learning because they feel a sense of ownership in the content. The best way to gain this commitment is to give the participants an opportunity to recognize how the training will benefit them. This is a determination that they need to make for themselves. If the trainer simply tells them why it should be important to them, they will be less likely to “buy in.”
The challenge for a trainer is, therefore, to find a learning activity that will help the participants discover and articulate the benefits of the training at the beginning of a training session.
Sometimes the benefits are very obvious. In these cases, all the trainer needs to do is ask the participants to brainstorm answers to the question: “How will this (training/topic/knowledge/skill) benefit you?”
If the participants are not familiar with the specific training content, it makes sense to gain the participants’ “buy in” by asking them: “What will be the consequences if the current (situation/policy/procedure) remains the same?” or “What are the consequences of not making this change? How will it affect (you, the customers, and/or the company)?”
Operating on the assumption that there is a reason why a new version or procedure has been created, the trainer can have participants answer the question: “What are your challenges with the current (system/version/policy/procedure)?” The participants may not know why a change is being made, but they will know what they don’t like about the current situation. Hopefully, their concerns will be similar to the reasons that initiated the change.
A trainer may want to take a different tack to get the participants to focus on a supporting principle that underlies the training content. For example, in a training session for supervisors about how to handle difficult employee behavior, the question might be: “How will your job be easier if your employees are successful on the job?” This question can intrigue and engage the participants by redirecting their attention from what their employees are doing wrong to what their employees need from them.
If the training content is so new and unfamiliar to the participants that there is no way they can discuss its benefits at the beginning of the training, the only thing the trainer can do is to wait until the end of the session. Then, asking “now that you have been introduced to the new (system/policy/ procedure), what benefits do you see for (you, the customers, and/or the company)?” will reinforce the participants’ “buy in.”
The more invested the participants are in the training, the greater likelihood that they will learn, retain and effectively apply their new knowledge or skills back on the job. The earlier that “buy in” occurs, the easier the training experience will be for both the participants and the trainer.
May your learning be sweet.