Let me ask you a simple question.
How do you go about training your employees?
Is Instructor Led Training the answer? If so, let me ask you this.
How much money (budget) and time (to create content, to train etc.) do you spend to train your employees? Don't worry, you don't have to do the math now. It's a rhetorical question.
Have you ever seen your employees without a smartphone or a fast internet connection - 4G? Probably not, right?
Jay Leno still uses a flip phone today, can you believe this? The man's got humor, but has poor taste in tech.
Sorry, I digress.
I am sure you also know that today, more content is being consumed via mobile devices than on traditional mediums - such as TVs.
This epiphany got me thinking...when our employees (and us) embrace technology to entertain and educate themselves, what's the best way to train them?
In this blog post, I am on a quest to find out the best and worst about our go-to training medium - Instructor Led Training (ILT).
In short: if you want to find out why and when ILT works and doesn't - and want to do something about it. You will love this post.
Let's get started!
BONUS: At the end of this blog post, you will find two awesome takeaways. 1) a beautiful infographic which elegantly captures the highlights of this blog post, and 2) an in-depth, downloadable guide to help you become a mobile-first training organization.
Listen, I know that being responsible to create training sessions at a large organization isn't smooth sailing.
However, in the age of ubiquitous Cloud Computing and fast internet, where information can be shared over the air and across various devices - is ILT still the only way to train our employees?
Here's the thing, our workforce today is much more diverse and exposed to technology. Today large organizations are more tuned to maintaining a central, decision making hub, all the while allowing more autonomy to regional teams.
As a result, we have got a lot of employees distributed across districts and states. So, whats the best way to train a diverse, distributed workforce? Is ILT the sole answer? Let us look at the pros and cons of ILT.
An ILT session is confined and distraction-free by design. Here, we allow our employees to receive knowledge via an instructor, who has complete attention of the crowd. Employees are not bothered by calls, emails or chit-chat.
Their entire focus rests on the instructor and the training method. A keen instructor would work with the crowd and make learning more interactive. This creates a highly focused learning environment.
Let's say you have to impart knowledge and train your employees on sensitive subjects. A classroom and instructor-led training remains the best choice. Instructors create a safe environment for learning and instill an atmosphere of acceptance, that enables collaboration and shared problem-solving without the fear of judgement. Unlike remote-training, employees won't consume training content or discuss it in the open.
The modern alternative to classroom driven training is on-demand training - delivered over the internet. Ondemand courses are terrific as they let our employees pick up training modules when they want or can and complete them in a leisurely fashion. You and I both hope that they finish their share of learning on time. With bated breath.
But, what's the guarantee that our employees do their bit on time? Isn't ILT better? Unlike on-demand or online learning, which can be picked-up and put down over and over again and perhaps never be completed, the probability of participants completing their learning objectives in a timely manner while in the classroom is practically guaranteed.
In a classroom environment, an instructor can always interact with learners and attend to specific problems instantly. This immediately enables a two-way communication between the instructor and learners.
Whereas online or remote training methodologies aren't conducive to one-on-one or face-to-face learning.
In an ILT situation, because the trainer and the learners are physically present in the same room, there's bound to be a two-way dialog.
Of course, the trainer has to warm up the audience and nudge them to participate in the dialog. Questions and clarifications get exchanged smoothly in such an environment.
A remote, webinar type training can also connect the trainer and his/her learners, but the lack of physical presence hinders easy communication.
Participants may ask questions of the instructor, but there is less opportunity to ask a follow-up question or to establish any type of dialog with the instructor or with other participants.
I have personally found out that face-to-face conversations help learners get to the crux of a given topic and extract more value from the instructor and course material.
In an ILT session, it is wonderful and pleasing to see learners work off of eachother, and learn collaboratively. This is the best aspect of ILT. More, active learners leads to better retention of knowledge. Even those informal communication between learners - say during lunch breaks - also develop a sense of community.
Well, the thing is, with ILT we need our employees to be present in one location, and we usually follow one-size-fits-all training programs.
We can't really address individual learning speeds and requirements in a mass training program, can we?
What happens then? The instructor begins his/her lecture, mostly using a PowerPoint presentation running behind.
Sorry to say this, but most Powerpoint slides have so much static content on them, it literally encourages the audience to doze off. Where's the fun in this type of learning, right?
We hope that employees in the classroom don't get cozy and only focus on the instructor and his/her presentation. They do nod at the instructor occasionally, but they are mostly bored, confused and as a result, unfocused.
You know what's worse? Most learners fail to remember the training content the moment they step out of the room. Passive learning techniques rarely work, do they?
Here's what you would love. Your employees to extract maximum value from each training session and apply the acquired skills on their jobs to bring more sales and revenue. This is how your hard work gets appreciated right? I know!
If we demand so much attention (focus on training) and retention (of knowledge) from our employees, do you think that our training strategies should be a bit more flexible?
This is one of the major handicaps for us - training strategists - of solely depending on ILT sessions to train employees. You know, like that proverb - don't put all eggs in one basket - you get the point right?
I looked at all aspects of ILT to see why it is so rigid. Here's what I found:
We all remember how our teachers at school used to do refresher or revision classes, right? They did so to help us retain our learning in a much better fashion.
The same thing holds true to any form of learning, even for adults - especially complex sales and product training.
Now, here's the deal. In order to understand how employees react to training content and the teaching method, you need to conduct thorough analysis.
Without it, how would you know how well your training has helped your employees? Right? Two things happen when we fail to analyze our training sessions:
As you venture out to new markets and expand resources, your training needs become more dynamic.
Naturally, you work closely with your sales and product teams to devise the best training content for employees.
What about your operations and regional leaders? Why not co-opt them while creating training content and also account them to make sure the training is delivered and completed?
Let me ask you this. Don't your operational, regional sales and marketing teams play a big part in setting and delivering targets each quarter?
This begs the question - shouldnt we include our operational and regional leaders to be part of the training delivery system?
Well, the answer is a unanimous yes. However, current instructor-led training delivery systems aren't conducive to co-opting leadership teams seamlessly. Here's what I found out:
ILT ties two ends, the instructor and the learner. But a modern organization is made up of a lot more actors who influence successful sales
However, ILT methods discount the involvement and the power of business leaders who are responsible to set and achieve sales targets
ILT works in two ways. It helps gather learners under one roof and forces collaborative learning, by design not by necessity
My argument is not about what is better than ILT. It is about a cohesive, inclusive, and diverse set of ways skills can be transferred to our employees. ILT sessions are anything but dead. They are still relevant, but not the only mode of training delivery.
Let me paint you a different picture, consider these hypothetical scenarios;
I believe that the ideal training strategy is one where we deliver ILT based training for a more focused, targeted necessity, and deliver microlearning modules over mobile devices and improve our training lifecycles.
This led me to co-create Nittiolearn, a platform which we envisioned and created from the ground-up to meet the training needs of modern, large organizations with distributed workforce such as yours. Visit www.nittiolearn.com to know more.
There's more to come. I and my team have dug ourselves deep into this organizational training universe, and we love it. We have unearthed and encountered a lot of issues faced by people like you. Issues related to ensuring quick, seamless, and maximum skills transfer to employees via training. So, I would recommend you to bookmark our blog, as we are thrilled to share interesting stories and anecdotes each week.
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