The Training Game

When you were a little kid, your brain was like a sponge. It soaked up everything that spewed out of the teacher’s mouth. Well, you’ve grown up and now your brain is like the rest of your muscles – it needs a break in between periods of hard work. Learning is hard work for the adult mind, you know.

Adults learn better in short, concentrated sessions followed by on-the-job practice where they can immediately put their new concepts to work. A professor once told me that once a week, three-hour courses wasted about an hour a week because a student can truly only “learn” for about two hours at a time. Keep a two-hour goal for your training courses.

Training in corporate America has changed very little in the last 40 years. Many companies believe that to educate their workforce, they must take a person out of the office (so they can focus) and commit to at least 4 to 8 hours (2 to 6 hours wasted). The truth is that your employees learn a lot by simply doing the job. What they need is specific instruction to reach the desired outcome combined with techniques that will help them retain what they do learn. Oh, and they need to practice in between training sessions.

If you think it will “cost” too much for your employees to meet four times over four weeks for two hours each week, consider the cost of a 25% return on your investment on a typical 8-hour course. That’s the most an employee will retain after one day of attending a course. That number decreases by 50% each day unless the employee uses the new skill. Ever send a person to a Friday training course?

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