What is training? A very simple question, yet the answers are plagued with complexity depending on who you ask. Let’s first start with Merriam-Webster's definition: A process by which someone is taught the skills that are needed for an art, profession, or job. Simple enough, right? Turn around and ask an individual, and his or her answer may sound something like: “Learning how to do something,” “Someone showing me how to do my job,” or “Learning my job.” You get the point.
Now ask a corporate trainer or facilitator the exact same question, and the answer may sound similar: “I teach new employees how to use the products, services, and necessary processes that support their job functions.” This answer is very specific compared to the learner’s response. As a long-time training professional, the difference is quite obvious. The trainers are teaching one thing, and the learner (or everyone else in the company) is expecting another.
Does this problem sound familiar? Training professionals play a vital and unique role in every organization. They are responsible for teaching employees, new to the company and seasoned staff, and the “how-to” curriculum, such as how to login to an application, how to troubleshoot, how to process orders, etc. What’s missing is the ability to incorporate “real” on-the-job interactions within the training. When looking for ways to improve your training programs, look at the curriculum from the learner’s point of view.
Here are four simple strategies to help improve your training program.
1. Turn the classroom in to a learning “playground:” If people learned how to do their jobs by yawning and visiting social media sites, most contact centers would be full of geniuses. But adult learners need to be stimulated and entertained in order to absorb and retain the knowledge required to dazzle customers. That’s why the best training supplements classroom instruction with interactive games, contests, role-plays, and call simulations. This keeps learners engaged and involved in the learning experience. It’s really enterTRAINment.
2. Change your “one-size- fits-all” approach: All learners are not created equal. Therefore, a one-size-fits-all training program doesn’t work. That approach leaves people behind. Programs should draw on the experience of those who can enhance training by playing to those strengths of people in the classroom. Encourage “veteran” trainees to share their insights and service success secrets, or by pair them with a true rookie during training exercises (this engages the former while shortening the learning curve of the latter).
3. Bring “the job” to the training room: In most companies, learners are held hostage in the training room for the duration of the training class. New employee training programs range anywhere from two to five weeks in a classroom for eight hours a day. Then they are pushed to the floor and expected to know how to do their job effectively. Take some time to integrate “the job” into the classroom. Allow time for learners to “job shadow” based on the topics you’re covering in the classroom. You easily can provide a worksheet or game on things to look for, listen for, and watch while they are seeing their job in action.
4. Remember job expectations: Training programs are really product, process, and system boot camps. The curriculum is designed to teach employees:
- What products they are supporting
- How to use those products
- How to troubleshoot the products
- How to understand the systems and processes that support them
It is just as important to educate new employees on your Quality Monitoring Standards and goals, Scheduling and Adherence standards, and Scorecard expectations. By training new staff how their performance goals and standards, if met, help the company and your customers, it will keep employees from thinking it’s just “big brother” watching everything they do until they eventually end up on your attrition list. Helping employees understand the ‘why’ behind their KPIs is one of the more important ways to improve your training program. These four simple training strategies will enhance the learning experience and ensure that your investment dollars are maximized because the learning curve is reduced. After all, you have invested in employees even before they have started. Go ahead, give them a try. Let me know what kind of results you see.