The purpose of employee training and development is to facilitate company processes and, ultimately, increase ROI for time spent and resources invested. However, when employees don’t feel vested in their own training, this purpose is rarely achieved. What is the solution? In this post we offer some suggestions.
Picture this all-too-common scenario: Advertising Client Services Manager Hannah is quietly working through a mountain of orders, barely keeping her head above water.
Just one disaster, like a file sent out in the wrong format or some glitch in the ad itself, could set her back as much as half a day, making her feel even more overwhelmed.
In the midst of tackling this already daunting amount of work, she receives an email from her boss casually letting her know that the company will soon be switching from Helpdesk Support Software A to Helpdesk Support Software B.
There is no accompanying explanation of how this implementation will benefit Hannah or the organization. Therefore, it feels to her like a random punishment. From her perspective, it will disrupt the workflow and create more work on top of her already enormous workload.
How Frustration Hampers Employee Training
The above vignette continues when Hannah receives another email. This email contains a link to some training videos. Also, it includes a directive that she be prepared to make the switch to Helpdesk Support Software B by a certain date.
Since she struggles to keep up with her current workload and has been given no information about the benefits of switching to this new software—for example, certain processes becoming automated to reduce her workload—she feels exhausted and resentful. Consequently, she puts off learning anything about Helpdesk Support Software B until the very last minute. Then she muddles through understanding it as she begins to use it.
In learning to use the new software almost as an afterthought, Hannah—and as a result the entire organization—misses out on many of the benefits it offers. Not only is this lukewarm outcome inconvenient for everyone involved, it completely defeats the purpose of employee training and development, which is to facilitate company processes and, ultimately, increase ROI for time spent and resources invested.
Clear Communication Is the Key
Employees today are already eager for development opportunities in the workplace. Training programs increase productivity and improve employee retention. These are boons for any business.
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All that’s needed to get workers excited about the prospective benefits and outcomes of training is for company leaders to communicate these goals well before the training begins.
When employees learn that their company will be implementing a new process, clear communication about the whys and wherefores is imperative. This is especially true if the change involves a digital adoption, as such changes tend to require more complex training.
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However, workers will be inspired and motivated to put their all into the training once they hear about how the change will simplify tasks and make their lives easier.
Imagine Hannah’s delight and enthusiasm once she finally realized that the new software cut the time it takes her to process orders by a third.
If this information had been communicated at the outset, she would have felt excited and encouraged by the prospect of the switch. Instead, she felt overwhelmed and resentful. She would have prioritized learning how to use the software. This would have allowed her—and the business—to reap the rewards of the new system far sooner.
Get Employees Excited About Training
It’s easy to see why motivating your workforce with clearly communicated expectations and goals facilitates the adoption of new systems and processes. However, what exactly does this look like in practice? Here are a few tips for creating buzz and enthusiasm around the training process before it begins:
Don’t Keep Employees in the Dark
Involve employees in your decision-making process as early as possible. This will let them know you value their contributions to the team.
Perhaps you have a plan to implement a wonderful new software that can increase conversion rates by 30 percent.
Consider letting your managers in on your thought processes from the beginning. Allow them to give you feedback and express concerns. Also consider empowering them to communicate these ideas to their teams. Then everyone will know what’s coming down the pike and why. That way no one is blindsided and left feeling powerless by sudden, unforeseen changes.
Personalize the Process
Let managers know you expect them to meet with each employee on their respective teams to set clear expectations and address concerns.
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This is also a great time to strategize about how to tailor the learning to each employee’s personal learning style and temperament. And of course these one-on-one meetings are also excellent opportunities to emphasize how the new implementation will personally benefit the employee.
Additionally, take steps to ensure that employees aren’t getting overwhelmed by the simultaneous demands of work and training. Periodic meetings throughout the training process to assess progress and make sure learning is on track can accomplish this.
Use Blended Learning
Blended learning makes the learning process accessible for all employees. This is because a blended approach accommodates all learning styles and personality types.
For example, conduct at least some portion of your training in a group classroom setting. This gives employees a sense of being in training to accomplish a common purpose. It’s also a great opportunity for sharing challenges and stumbling blocks. This will foster a sense of support and community spirit.
Additionally, mix in-person training with online learning. This approach offers flexibility for busy employees and accommodates employees who prefer to learn in a group setting. At the same time, it accommodates those who do better with a more solitary, self-directed learning style.
Successful Employee Training Begins with a Clear Vision
Enthusiasm for new systems and processes is a sentiment that has the greatest effect company-wide when it trickles down from the top.
If company leaders are excited about the potential benefits of the upgrade and communicate this excitement to their managers, those managers will be pass along this zeal to their teams. Then they, and everyone else—including all the company “Hannahs”—will be eager to complete training in the new system and reap the rewards as soon as they possibly can.