Editor’s Note: This is the second in a five-part series of articles that will explore each concept behind the five moments of need in training.
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Explore this issueApril/May 2015
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Our first article for this training series in the February/March edition of Food Quality & Safety magazine discussed training for the first of the five moments of need, as described by Conrad Gottfredson, PhD and Bob Mosher, learning for the first time. This article discusses the second crucial moment of learning need, which occurs when people want to expand the breadth and depth of what they already know. They need more knowledge, information, or techniques to begin the transition from novice to expert, whether with in class, online, or blended training.
But don’t worry. This is not an article on how to build a better training class. It is a three-rule primer on how to ensure your employees get the most out of any training program.
Set Clear Learning Goals and Performance Expectations
The first rule of ensuring that employees get the most out of training is to set clear performance expectations and concrete outcomes. When employees demonstrate measurable improvement in workplace performance, the goal of training has been achieved. And yet, time and again, we’ve seen great courses delivered by great trainers result in less-than-great returns in the workplace. With budgetary pressures being top of mind, this is not a result that anyone wants to see.
A variety of reasons have been identified for poor training outcomes, but studies show one of the greatest predictors of how workers perform after a training event is how well they are briefed before training even begins.
Think about the last time you asked someone to teach you something. You had a clear learning objective, and the training didn’t end until you reached that objective. If you were learning to tie your shoes, success was a well-tied shoe. If you wanted to sum a range of cells in Excel, a final number was proof of learning.
A trainer can easily spot those who are prepared to learn.
Why is it then that we often send employees to a training course without telling them what success should look like? “I want you to take this GMP course” is not the same as “I want you to take this GMP course so you can update our current GMPs.” Attending the course achieves success in the first scenario; a freshly updated GMP manual is the outcome for the second.
Goal setting doesn’t have to be complicated, but it does need to be specific. If learners know what success should look like and how success will be measured after training, they will be primed to get the most out of that course.
A trainer can easily spot those who are prepared to learn. They ask thoughtful questions and show enthusiasm. They relate the information presented to how things are done at their plant. You can almost see them putting the training into practice.
A trainer can also spot those who are not engaged. They come in two broad categories.
- “Hostages” who attend because the boss has sent them. They don’t know what the training is about, and they don’t care or understand how it might be used on the job. Chances are, very little of the training will translate into improved job performance.
- “Tourists” who think of training as a paid holiday. They might become active participants in the course, but they do not understand the purpose of the training or how they are expected to use it.
Improved job performance is possible, but not likely.