This post by Trina Rimmer first appeared on the Impact Instruction Group blog.
Have you ever read a sales or marketing script used for training and thought to yourself, “Who actually says this stuff?” or “No caller is ever that polite and forthcoming.” You’re not alone in being skeptical. Most of us are understandably reluctant to embrace words, processes or ideas that don’t ring true. When the tone, message, or content of training lacks authenticity, learners quickly tune out. And, if your training doesn’t engage learners in a way that allows them to learn through experiencing the consequences of their choices, what’s the point of training them at all?
So how can you incorporate training strategies that ensure the learning experience reaches learners in a way that really connects to their real-world experiences?
It All Starts with the Needs Analysis
I feel a bit like a broken record, but to fully understand the root cause of performance gaps, you need to develop an understanding of the learner’s working environment, including their systems, processes, and operating procedures. Only then will you be able to identify strategies to authentically address needs.
- Ask SMEs/stakeholders for performance reports or other measurements that can help to inform your approach. What data are they using to reach their conclusions about training needs?
- Rather than relying solely on a stakeholder’s or a Subject Matter Expert’s interpretations of the learner’s reality, conduct a few short interviews with learners of varying backgrounds and experiences.
- If at all possible, be a fly on the wall in the learner’s environment. Listen in on phone calls, attend team meetings, use their equipment — and take tons of notes.
Design with Performance in Mind
There’s nothing that degrades training’s credibility faster than role-plays with heavily scripted dialog (i.e. featuring civil customer interactions with simple dilemmas) or performance support tools that assume 100 percent system up-time and computer-savvy users. When we focus on portraying a corporate ideal, we sacrifice the opportunity to equip learners with skills that support their real-world performance.