Many new factors affect the workplace today, ranging from globalization to new technologies and the next generation of young workers. All of these factors and more are changing the rules of training. As a result, trainers must seek new ways to share information with learners. In Energize Your Training, Robert W. Lucas offers many different approaches that trainers can use to improve their sessions and engage their participants. His recommendations are based on what researchers understand about how the human brain processes information and how adults learn.
ASSESSING LEARNERS’ NEEDS
The first step in designing a successful training course is to evaluate what participants need. To do so, Lucas has five suggestions: (1) use participant interviews, (2) distribute questionnaires either in advance or at the start of the session, (3) ask participants to identify priority interests on index cards, (4) create a list of workplace issues on a piece of paper that is distributed around the class, and (5) ask learners to brainstorm key training-related workplace issues in small groups.
Trainers should guarantee that the training objectives align with participant needs. Several ways can be used to accomplish the alignment. One option is to orient the learners before the training begins, perhaps by distributing an audio or video file with the topics that will be covered. Trainers should identify organizational issues that could affect learners as well as what motivates them. All session materials should address the participants directly, using the pronoun “you,” and wherever possible, content should be personalized. Trainers must make the learning environment interesting through the use of music or props. They should also make learning personally meaningful. Instructors must focus on learner needs and let the objectives drive the session. When engaging with participants, instructors can create session ground rules and encourage peer feedback. Before concluding a session, trainers need to review the learning objectives and reinforce the connection between the learners’ needs and what the training has delivered.
From his experience as a trainer, Lucas identifies ten ways to address learners’ expectations:
- Conducting a pre-assessment.
- Gathering information through an icebreaker activity.
- Designing the training in a way that builds in involvement.
- Preparing for multigenerational expectations.
- Dealing with differences in cultural values.
- Incorporating participatory activities into the session.
- Providing equal access to all participants.
- Creating a safe learning environment.
- Focusing on the learners.
- Using professional quality support materials.