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eNews February 2014

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Hello,

Welcome to this edition of our Business Performance eNews. We extend an especially warm welcome to our new readers.

This month, we continue our theme on engaging training participants in learning that will make a real difference to their jobs. All too many programs are heavy on theory and light on practical relevance. In this second installment, we share seven useful strategies for getting learners engaged in actually applying their learning in their workplace.

Our second article this month examines some misguided perceptions on how training really works to improve workplace performance. We walk you through a simple yet powerful model of how training leads to better business results and provide illustrative case studies. Last, but not least, we introduce you to our leadership expert, Maree Harris. Find out more about Maree in Meet Our Expert of the Month. We trust you enjoy this month's edition of eNews.

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Engaging Learners with Real Work Relevance

by Leslie Allan AIMM MAITD

Four Drivers for Engaging Learners

A training program participant who is not engaged is a participant who is not learning. And a participant who is not learning is an employee who will not improve their performance on the job. We all have an interest in delivering interesting, relevant and challenging programs.

Trainers want to deliver programs that make a difference to participants' working lives. Senior managers want to see tangible benefits to the organization from the program. Program participants want to feel involved and not have their time wasted.

I've identified four key areas that trainers need to work on in their program design and delivery if participants are to feel engaged in the learning. These four areas are:

  1. Goal orientation
  2. Real work relevance
  3. Practice
  4. Interpersonal interaction

In this article, I want to focus my discussion on the second aspect; making training really relevant to the participant's job.

Real Work Relevance

When employees perceive the training program they are attending as being not really about their role and their job, many will quickly lose interest. This is axiomatic, yet many programs I see leave employees guessing how the knowledge and principles taught during the program apply to them. Without a direct link to the participants' actual work, the program never gains the credibility it needs to win them over.

When employees perceive a disconnect between the program and their actual work, the discussion in the training room quickly moves to why the training is not applicable to their jobs. Faced with this situation, the best trainers compile a list of actions that the organization needs to take to maximize the relevance and the impact of the training just delivered.

This list is then given to the program sponsor for consideration. Some sponsors and senior managers see these suggestions as a "list of grievances". And in some ways it is. The best sponsors and managers read the messages behind the list and work to address the causes of the disengagement.

Some items on the "grievance" list are valid. Others point to areas in which the organization needs to do some work to change employee perceptions. All the better if perceptions are aligned before the employees enter the program. The main point I am making here is that by showing participants how the program relates directly to their day-to-day work, trainers can significantly lift the level of employee interest in the program. Below are my top seven tips for clearly making this connection between the learning and the person's job.

  1. You, as the trainer, need to be well-versed in the employees' job requirements and the working environment. This includes getting familiar with the cultural aspects of the workplace: What is it like to work in that area? What is the history of the work area? What are the current issues getting attention?

    If you are external to the organization, then it is even more important for you to talk to the participants' supervisors and to some participants before program start. If employees attending your program are from a number of different departments, organizations or professions, then get familiar with current trends around the subject you are teaching.
  2. Develop an expertise in the knowledge and skills being taught, or at least rely on subject matter experts at the appropriate times. Employees will quickly see through you if you try to use theory as a crutch. If you are not an expert, schedule in subject matter experts that know the job inside out – and leave plenty of time for participants to discuss issues with the subject matter experts.
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Read all 7 tips for connecting learning to the job.

Training Management Maturity ModelFor help in evaluating the effectiveness of the learning function in your organization, check out our Training Management Maturity Model and Assessment Guide. This benchmarking pack is designed for training professionals managing a training function and wanting to compare their employee training processes with best practice. The pack includes everything you need to conduct an evaluation, including assessment and reporting guide, customizable assessment form and analysis and reporting sheets. Find out more about our Training Management Maturity Model and download the free Maturity Chart and sample assessment today.

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How Training Works

by Leslie Allan AIMM MAITD

Why Training Matters

Many organizations do employee training on the cheap. These organizations give non-professionals, such as the administrative officer or the customer service representative, the job of organizing and running training sessions. The lack of importance given to training is often reflected in the fact that the training role is given to the hapless person in addition to their normal job.

These organizations also typically conduct training without first completing a proper training needs analysis. Usually, no follow up is made to see if the training actually achieved the organization's objectives. Most are content to run the usual "smiley sheets" to see if participants liked the program.

Training sessions in these organizations are usually "brain dumps", with seemingly never-ending decks of mind-numbing PowerPoint slides and little to no opportunity for participants to discuss and practice skills. It's no wonder then that for these organizations, the money and time spent on training is mostly wasted. And when times get tough, training is the first service to get cut in these companies.

Leaders in best-of-breed organizations, on the other hand, recognize the critical role that training plays in enabling the organization to achieve its strategic and operational goals. In the new economy, competition is fierce and the business landscape is changing continuously. When employee, team, business unit and organizational capability are not keeping pace with competitive pressures, short-sighted organizations fall behind.

A Sophisticated Model of How Training Works

Understanding how training works to build capability and implementing effective learning are cornerstones of successful companies. Grasping how training works to achieve lasting outcomes at all levels of an organization is not intuitive. Many novice managers believe that sending employees on an entertaining training program is enough to guarantee learning and benefits to the organization. Now contrast this "naïve" view of how training works with the more sophisticated model shown in Figure 1 below.

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Continue reading how training really works.

From Training to Enhanced Workplace PerformanceFind out more about how training works to create business benefits. Check out Leslie Allan's practical resource kit packed with ideas, tools and templates for implementing effective learning. Visit the From Training to Enhanced Workplace Performance information portal to download the free introductory chapter and start using Leslie's comprehensive training guide and toolkit today.

Meet Our Expert of the Month – Maree Harris

Maree Harris

This month we proudly feature Maree Harris. Maree is a professional development facilitator who specialises in developing and enhancing the soft skills and personal leadership of professionals seeking to take their careers to the next level.

Maree explains her approach, "Many of my clients are professionals who, despite their comprehensive university education and post graduate qualifications, are being passed over for promotions and opportunities by people who do not have the qualifications, technical expertise or experience they have. They are completely bewildered and disillusioned by this. They are not aware that it is often their lack of these soft skills and personal leadership skills, which aren't taught at university, that has seen them lose the promotion or not be offered the opportunity." Contact us today to find out more about how Maree Harris can help you.

Business Performance Team

Meet the other members of our expert team of professional consultants, trainers, facilitators and coaches. Whether you need help with your current issues or a future project, our experts are ready to assist you in a variety of specialized fields.

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Keep up with all of the latest news and commentary by regularly visiting our topical Business Performance blog. Check out our recent blog posts and let us know your thoughts in the Comments section. And don't forget to click the Like button and be the first to Share with your friends and colleagues.

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Visit our web site at www.BusinessPerform.com for lots of expert guidance and practical tools designed to help you get ahead of your competition. Also, be sure to pass this newsletter on to friends and colleagues who want to stay up with what's on. From all of us here on the Business Performance team, we wish you a productive month and look forward to communicating with you again soon.

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