By Kate Fogarty
Training courses are essential to expand and develop the knowledge base of your employees. However, we all know that unless the new skills are put into action immediately, the majority of the knowledge gained is rapidly forgotten. For organizations to obtain a decent return on investment, they need to be sure the knowledge is retained long enough to be used in the work place. Read on for more information on how to maximize the opportunity to use before you lose.
A Tailored Approach
Ensure you match your needs with the course. Get the trainer to mold the course to create a bespoke program for your team. Although this might be the more expensive route, if the ongoing benefits from the skills gained are immediately put into action, then you’ll gain the optimum ROI.
Actions Speak Louder Than Words
Make sure the training will involve practical situations and not just the usual team-building exercises. Putting the knowledge and skills being taught directly into action through role play and mock scenarios encourages the teams to “do” rather than just sit and listen. This type of activity helps those attending the course retain the material being taught even if they don’t actually need to put their new skills directly into action.
It’s Not What You Do…
The way we learn also has an effect on what we retain. The self-discovery route of knowledge can often be easier to retain than the knowledge we’re taught by sitting and listening, so ensure the course offers case studies or problem-based sessions where participants can work out the solutions themselves. Problem-based learning activities encourage individuals to participate, and this helps to embed new skills. There’s no better way to learn than in a real, working situation so if a similar scenario can be recreated during a training session with teams working on the solutions together, it will have lasting impact on memory retention.
Ensure the training materials used are relevant to the training and written in a way that means they’ll still be useful after the training course. If they’re written in an easy reference format, then they’ll have ongoing value to attendees when they’re back in the workplace and are putting their skills into practice. Ask the training company if there will be access to updated materials after the course. Advising your teams of updates that are available in staff meetings or newsletters will be a helpful reminder that will encourage the use and improvement of the skills learned. Simple aids to improve the retention of the materials learned, such as a summary of each module or a bullet list of key points, will also support the learning process. A simple, easy-to-read reference document that can be pinned to notice boards will jog the memories on the key points.
Training Follow Up
To ensure there’s a transfer of skills to the workplace, you need to ensure that there’s a decent follow up provided by the trainer. This process also helps retention and can take many forms. Some examples include getting attendees to summarize the most important points from the training, sending out quizzes a few weeks after the training to test their knowledge and getting the attendees to write about what skills they’ve put into practice and explain if it went well or if they felt they had any more training needs.
Of course, don’t forget communication before, during and after training courses helps you engage with the trainer and your team to help get the most from your training investment.
Kate Fogarty is a freelance marketing manager with over 20 years’ experience working in a variety of industries within private and third sector organizations, currently working with Lilac James Ltd.