Training done poorly wastes an enormous investment. The investment in training includes wages and the potential for overtime bringing workers in early, holding workers after shift, needing to backfill line positions to ensure uninterrupted productivity. Then there is the opportunity cost of other work not performed while training. The list goes on and on and these are just the tangible costs. As for less tangible costs, training that insults the intelligence of trainees tends to create resentment, demotivate, and may serve to lower self-esteem and self-confidence.
Good training fosters performance improvement; this must be the goal. Companies must take steps to benefit maximally from their training investment.
Let’s play trainer
Learning can offer benefits that extend beyond the classroom when organizations get past the notion of fixed roles such as teacher, trainer, student, and trainee. Everyone has something to contribute and something to learn; this includes trainers learning from trainees. The role of “trainee” needs to include the trainer and the role of “trainer” needs to include all trainees. Entire groups should learn together with each person contributing/benefitting from one another.
This type of group learning WILL NOT happen unless trainers inspire trainees to share (teach) in return. To this end – trainers must develop rapport in the classroom. Establishing rapport begins with humility, respect, and a genuine interest in the welfare of employees.
Respecting the intelligence and insight of trainees goes a long way toward breaking down barriers to sharing. This means talking rather than telling. This means listening with an interest in learning. Training that rehashes what workers already know will not give rise to learning, but it may create resentment.
Skilled trainers recognize what trainees already know and step from behind the podium pushing for a collaborative experience co-led by resident experts within the audience because in the end, it doesn’t matter who’s doing the training so much as who leaves trained.
The best trainers emanate an aura of openness to new knowledge and new learning relationships with trainees. Trainers who think they have all of the answers will literally never learn (and will never benefit by being taught by their trainees). All trainers, even veteran ones and perhaps especially the veteran ones, have something to learn from trainees.
Seize the benefits of training
Few organizations can afford to simply meet compliance obligations; there must be other benefits to offset training investments. Training can provide benefits that transcend basic fulfillment of lesson plans. Training costs too much and offers too much to be done poorly. Relationships forged and fortified in classrooms extend to field settings where people share best practices and openly voice help needed.
There is a difference between training to teach and training to learn. Train to learn and reap the full benefits training can offer.