Many organizations budget and plan for their coming year employee training during the month of January. If you want your training investment this year to produce sustained positive results – read on OR you just can just keep throwing more wasted resources down the drain!

Over the years I have struggled with why people sit through a learning experience, pay attention, take notes and then do nothing with the learning or follow-through with action. What contributes to this lack of application? Is it intent, dysfunction, and internal resistance to change or some other factor?
People learn when they are ready, but what exactly does this mean? I know, during my career I have participated in many career development programs, some for up to three days, and applied little or none of what I learned even though while I was sitting there listening I kept saying to myself, “I can use this idea, this is great, this is just what I need to move to the next level of effectiveness and performance.”

I have spent the better part of my career as a trainer trying to understand why people don’t use what they are exposed to or learn - wasting corporate training resources of time and money. Any employee development program to have long term success must follow what I call “Curriculum Based Training” philosophy or what I refer to as the Integration level of training. There are three levels of learning. Let me briefly explain;

-The awareness level. At this level of learning employees have an awareness only of techniques, tactics, skills and approaches to be more effective in their roles. However, they lack the clarity and understanding to embrace the learning in a way that will allow them to put the information into practice in an effective way and for the long term. At this level, behavior will not change and you will have essentially wasted corporate resources and the employee’s time. They will be alert and attentive during any training session, but will lack the ability and knowledge necessary to know how, where, when and why to use this new information. The awareness level can be described as sharing information only. Generally speaking this approach is a one to two hour topic discussion.

-The understanding level. At the understanding level, employees get it. They see the relationship between the information they have learned and its value, but they still lack the ability to apply what they have learned to their roles and responsibilities. This approach is a generally a two to four hour topic discussion.

-The integration level. Knowledge if it is not used applied or integrated into current mindsets, activities, responsibilities or approaches is essentially useless information. Without a doubt the biggest challenge in any training initiative is to ensure that the new learning is used and used whenever and wherever appropriate for the long term. Applying new knowledge for the long-term only occurs when the following twelve requirements are incorporated into any training program or process;

The twelve training requirements for positive and sustained results.
  1. The program must engage the participants and can not be a one way dialog or approach. This includes pre-program research, custom manuals and take-home value tools.
  2. The program must permit the employees to practice while they are learning.
  3. The program must allow time for group interaction in small work groups to discuss specific applications to their role and responsibilities and their challenges and opportunities.
  4. The program must allow adequate time for questions and practical discussions.
  5. The program must take into consideration that everyone learns in different ways. Some people need to hear it while others need to speak it and some need additional post-program time to process the information at their own pace.
  6. The program must take into consideration the ‘real world’ issues that the participants deal with on a routine basis.
  7. The presenters must have an engaging style and tailor the material to the employee’s tasks, roles, responsibilities and expectations.
  8. The learning must be periodically inspected to ensure that the learned skills are being implemented and used where and when appropriate.
  9. Management must participate in the actual learning so they know what their employees are learning. Without this knowledge it is impossible for them to coach, inspect and hold people accountable over time.
  10. The program must provide opportunities for everyone to develop personal ownership of the material.
  11. Participants must be held accountable for using what they learned.
  12. Participants must be consistently coached on the material covered and their appropriate application of it.
I’ll close with the seven laws of learning;

The Seven laws of learning;
  1. All discovery is self-discovery.
  2. People all learn at different rates and for different reasons.
  3. People all have unique learning styles.
  4. People learn when they are ready to learn not when you need them to learn.
  5. People who are experiencing a great deal of stress or tension will fail to learn what and how you want them to.
  6. If material is not presented in a way that is engaging and tailored for the person’s learning style they will fail to integrate the skills, techniques or attitudes into their roles and responsibilities.
  7. Everyone’s personal perceptions either contribute to or sabotages their ability and willingness to apply new concepts, ideas and information.
  8. Putting people in a room for a few hours or a few days exposing them to general topic material presented by egocentric speakers who lack specific topic experience, wisdom and a professional and engaging delivery style will always produce disappointment and wasted resources for the long term.
Contact me when you want to discuss a customized presentation for your employees or members that produces long-term benefits and positive results. 704-895-1230. Tim Connor