In order for training programs to be successful, you must show employees how the training is relevant to them on a personal, professional, and organizational level, says Chris Douglas, executive vice president of training, Fierce Conversations.
“It has to have some meaning to the people that are in the room,” she explains. “A good facilitator understands that understanding the needs of the audience and finding ways to connect with people on different levels of ability, and maybe different levels of interest,” are key to engaging learners in training.
When learners don’t think they need to improve their own skills or can’t understand how training relates to their job, they might be less engaged in training, Douglas says.
For example, in a recent survey from Fierce Conversations and Quantum Workplace, over 80% of employees said that miscommunication occurs “frequently, very frequently, or occasionally” in their workplaces, but only about 53% feel that they are directly involved in miscommunication that often. That mismatch could create a challenge when offering training on communication skills to employees who do not view themselves as being part of the miscommunication problem, she says.
To help engage learners, Douglas also recommends using “real play” (i.e., “real-world life examples”) rather than role-play during training. For instance, during training, participants should discuss an actual problem or situation in the organization instead of a scenario at a fictitious company. That way, “they’re talking about their own company. They’re solving real issues.”
“What you have to do is get people to see how they can immediately use what they’ve learned,” Douglas explains. In the case of communication training, that might include why it is vital for all employees to use effective communication, “why it is important to their success to be good at this,” the company’s expectations for how employees communicate (e.g., “how they say things, what they say, clarity, and intent”), and the benefits of good communicators becoming even better.