Creating meaningful training that works is much easier said than done. Here are a few tips when conducting employee training sessions:
- Before creating training, assess the current skill level of the people in the training session. While it’s unlikely you’ll ever have a group of people with exactly the same skill set, it should be possible to customize the training for the needs of those attending. To do this, you’ll need to find out in advance what skills the individuals already have—so you’re not wasting time trying to train basics no one needs, or starting with materials that are too advanced for the audience. It may also mean the training group needs to be separated into smaller groups by skill level.
- Follow up on learning outcomes. This is as much an organizational issue as it is an issue for a trainer. Finding ways to ensure that the individuals learned what was intended is necessary to ensure the new information is being utilized. This may be formal or informal.
- Include learning methods beyond just lecturing. This one may seem obvious, but far too many training sessions are simply one-sided information “dumping” that won’t stick. No matter how important the subject matter is, rarely is it best to simply lecture a group and have that be the full extent of the training session. Instead, try to incorporate multiple types of learning methods.
- Include hands-on learning. This goes along with not lecturing the whole time. Utilizing multiple types of learning, especially hands-on learning, can be useful in helping the trainees remember the materials.
- Give adequate breaks. The people being trained almost certainly have other tasks they would normally be doing. If they’re not given time to check on what’s going on outside the training, they’ll simply be doing those things instead of paying attention. By giving ample break time to attend to other responsibilities and return messages, you’re more likely to have better focus during the training itself.
- Cover work for employees as needed. Nothing guarantees lack of focus like resentment that comes from someone who can only think of the work they’ll be making up later on. And of course, no one wants frustrated customers who can’t find the employee they need to talk to. Obviously, not all jobs will need to be fully covered, but some will and this should be planned for in advance.
- Get input on what the trainees expect to get out of the session. By asking for input up front, you’ll have more of a chance of tailoring the experience to meet the needs of those attending. Note, however, this tip may not be applicable if the trainees are being taught something they’re completely unfamiliar with.
- Let the attendees know the full plan and expected outcomes in advance. For example, if they’ll be expected to know how to utilize specific software at the end of the session, that should be clear up front. If they’ll be using that software in their job the following day, that should be completely clear. If instead they’re going to be expected to become experts and train others on the software, that’s also important to clarify. Be sure expectations and goals are clear from the beginning to allow people to respond appropriately and get help as needed.
- Track the training completed by each person. In some cases, this is a compliance issue. But even when it’s not, there should be a record of what training an employee has received.
- Ask for feedback. Even if critical—and especially if critical, much of the time—feedback can help make the next training session better.
These are just a few examples of ways to improve employee training sessions. What others would you add to the list?