Four Ways To Make Training Stick

A common problem organisations face when up-skilling their teams is that the daily priorities of running their business, leading projects and conducting research will always be more urgent than growing the capability of an organisation, even though the need for the latter is recognised as being important. 62% of people on a training programme tried to reapply their learning after a study, and then this dropped to 44% six months after the training. {source: Saks & Belcourt}

Training usually means a big time cost investment, which doesn’t feel like a great return when there’s little change in people’s behaviour. Here are four things that can be applied to make training stick:

  1. Ensure recipients are ready to learn: research has shown that 40% of learning fails because it doesn’t create the right context. Learners don’t understand how it could help them and aren’t excited or intrigued {source: learning effectiveness expert Professional Robert Brinkerhoff}
  2. Plan the timescale so learning can be reapplied: a further 40% of learning failure has shown to be because recipients can’t transfer their learning at the right time into practice. Learning & Development expert, Sophie James, talks about structuring learning to make it meaningful and accessible with plenty of time in the workflow to prepare, attend the training and apply the learning in every day work.
  3. Bite-sized topics with focussed yet reinforced messaging: in order to retain learning content, people generally need to study information on multiple occasions, and we know that an adult’s working memory, on average, can hold between 5-7items at any one time, half of that when working in a foreign language or under stress {source: Cepeda et al, 2008}
  4. Engaging content: Psychologists have shown that the human brain learns best when having fun. Encouraging the release of small bursts of adrenaline can increase memory function. However, when adrenalin comes cortisol, the stress hormone, which can reduce cognitive function, so there needs to be a balance and training should be kept calm and stress free. Images a models engage an audience and for many, recognition and recall memory is stronger for visuals than words. By creating opportunities for participants to experience the learning first, for example a real life case study, this taps into ‘Bandura’s Social Learning Theory’ and increases the chance of successful behaviour change.

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