Employee training and development is a huge investment. It takes carefully invested time and resources to construct and provide your team with the direction they need to be successful. While every company, and their respective teams, will have unique needs there are seven common pitfalls to avoid when developing training programs to ensure that your team members are on the right track.
Employee Training and Development Don’ts
Don’t Lack Direction
The very point of training is to provide an audience with valuable insight. No matter what the topic of your session is, there must be a point to it. If your audience ends the session with a “what was that all about?” mentality, you’re definitely not making the point clear enough.
- Identify the purpose of your training and mold your content around it
- Keep training focused on the ONE objective
- Make sure your audience understands what that objective is right away
Don’t Be Too Vague
Ever walk out of a training session and think “I get it but I’m not sure what to do about it”? You’ve essentially completed a guided break session. Don’t let this be the feeling you leave your audience with. As a side note, this is another reason why picking ONE objective is so important.
- Start by stating the objective of the session (Ex: “Today we’re going to cover the proper procedure for exiting the building in case of a fire emergency.”)
- Provide relatable and relevant examples of the issue to be resolved that gets buy in from the audience (Ex: “Last quarter we had 6 avoidable accidents due to not knowing the proper fire exit procedure.”)
- Cover the details required to achieve the desired outcome. Stay relevant but be specific (Ex: “For everyone in the class today, you will exit the building via the north side exit.”)
- Ask questions
Too often when a focus hasn’t been designated (see “Lack of Direction”) there is a tendency to try and teach EVERYTHING there is to know in a single training session. This causes a number of issues such as overwhelming your audience, running over your allotted time, or skipping over critical points.
- Stick to the main focus of the session. Don’t try to hit everything at once.
- Keep sessions to “bite-size” lengths. The more you try to cover, the less your audience will retain.
While there are instances where training can transition from group to group, in general customization is best. The best tip here is to consider who your audience is. Keep in mind that there’s a large difference in the information that is valuable to a manufacturing team vs a sales team. Some content may overlap but at the very least, minor tailoring is recommended.
- Identify your audience and determine the objective unique to them
- Consider including information that may cross over into other audiences
- Repurpose > Reuse
Don’t Be Outdated
This should be a no-brainer but is often easier said than done. Updating content, especially in rapidly changing operations, is time consuming and can be difficult. New information means the potential for restructuring an entire training course. With that being said, there’s simply no point in teaching outdated methods that are ineffective or even potentially dangerous.
- Update content on a regular basis to avoid large (and potentially overwhelming) course revisions
- Actively seek out improvements to your course content from both external and internal sources
- Utilize a content management system that makes updating course materials simple for both you and your audience’s sake
Don’t Forget to Test
Just because your audience heard you doesn’t necessarily mean they understood you, or were even listening. One of the largest downfalls of training and development is the lack of comprehension checks. Before your audience goes out and applies the insight you’ve shared with them, it is crucial to get a measure of how well they understood you. Even with a well-crafted course, there’s likely to be a few points that need clarification. Identify and clarify.
- Use quiz materials to test the comprehension of your audience
- Allow time for questions and feedback at interval periods of your lesson. Don’t simply leave this for the last 10 minutes
- Use this feedback (both quiz and verbal) to improve your course content and structure for the future (see: “The Outdated” section)
Don’t Forget the Follow Up
On average, 70% of information provided will be lost in 24 hours. Providing your audience with reference materials, that they can EASILY reference, is crucial. Let’s be honest, we all have a lot going on in our lives and therefore we tend to cram in as much as possible…and we tend to forget a lot as well.
So don’t forget that while it’s beneficial to have in-person training for immediate feedback and clarity, once everyone leaves the session, it’s best to have some assistance post-training.
- Provide reference materials for your audience after the conclusion of the training session
- Make sure that these materials are easily accessible (consider where your team members will need them), simple to navigate, are informative, provide clear and descriptive messaging, and have resource designations for further insight.
- If possible, look for resources that are easy to update for everyone (think digital platform)