By John Hall
A company is like a great sports team: The coach leads the way and coordinates the team with his leadership skills, and the players score the points needed to win the game. But what makes a good player better than constant training?
A wise manager knows that an efficient employee needs to be adequately trained. Even the best athlete will eventually grow weak if he’s not consistently challenged in training. But training doesn’t just occur during an employee’s first few weeks; effective training is an ongoing process.
However, sometimes even organizations that decide to embrace a culture of learning can fall into common misconceptions about education: The learning process is either experiential or theoretical instead of a blend of the best of both.
That lack of interaction lets learners become passive and demotivated, which makes the whole training process boring — and a waste of time for your company and your employees.
Brad Lea, owner and founder of LightSpeed VT, is an entrepreneur who set the benchmark for employee training. After he’d failed at becoming an actor — getting cut from a movie three days before production — Brad decided to start a business as a path to becoming a Hollywood star. Today, his online training platform is the largest in the world, and he is the father of “virtual training,” having coined the term himself. He shared with me some expert insights into how some companies miss the mark and what leaders can do about it to effectively train their teams.
Don’t mistake exposure for training.
As a content marketing agency, my team is at an advantage when it comes to training. We produce a lot of content about our industry that we use to hire and train all our employees. All new hires are trained in what content marketing is and how we use it to fuel our business, and we pair that onboarding with quarterly development days and ongoing courses through a program called Lessonly to make sure we’re consistently training our teams.
Unfortunately, many people think that “effective training” looks more like bringing in a speaker to talk to their employees than ongoing learning; this couldn’t be further from the truth.
Most companies have one-off training programs that don’t let employees test and practice their knowledge, which is why they rarely deliver the right result: a trained employee. Managers tend to sit an employee in front of a screen or an instructor and assume that he’s trained after a few hours because he nodded along. In fact, Brad said training managers have even told him they just need to “check the box” to meet training requirements their executives set.
Sending someone through a course, workshop, speech, or seminar once is not “training.” It only exposes the person to the material. Training requires ongoing exposure to the material — so the individual can actually learn it — and an assessment for accountability, testing the knowledge gained. And it would all happen consistently over time.
Re-evaluate your thinking, and create an experience.
At first, even LightSpeed VT didn’t have training programs. It grew too quickly at the beginning and didn’t properly train its staff, which is a common problem for companies just starting out. Now, it’s constantly re-evaluating its programs to make sure it has an actual training program, not just an information program.
Effective training programs lead to the best ROI your company can realize. “With a highly trained staff,” Brad explained, “you’ll see an increase in productivity, retention, customer satisfaction, reduced liability, fewer lawsuits, reduced expenses, and more. If you train effectively, you immediately see results.”
This is why it’s so important to create training experiences that employees can actually learn from. If you can teach them and truly help develop their skills, it will pay off. Honestly, most people do want to learn. They want to level up and bring more value to the organizations they work for. But when the training you offer is nonexistent or ineffective, it causes them to complain and push back rather than improve.
Consider what kind of training and ongoing education you offer your employees, and ask yourself — and them — whether it’s truly delivering value to them, their roles, and your company as a whole. Look at your current programs; are they more focused on box-checking, or are they in-depth training programs that teach your employees the skills they need to do their best work? If your efforts are more concentrated on information exposure than actual training and education, it’s time for a change.
Too often, leaders get so swept up in all the various areas of day-to-day business that they overlook what it takes to set up their teams for success. They prioritize recruiting players and buying new uniforms over effective training that translates to a win on the field. Not only does this leave your team feeling unprepared, but it’s also costing you money. Stop wasting your investment in training, and start being a better coach.
Read the full article here.
This content was originally published by Forbes Magazine. Original publishers retain all rights. It appears here for a limited time before automated archiving. By Forbes Magazine