Thursday, February 27, 2014

What I learnt about training - from buying a new car....

Always great fun to drive off in new wheels - but boy, did I get an empathy wake-up call about how learners experience new skills.  Yes, I am an experienced (old) driver, with lots of mileage on me.  Nonetheless, the world keeps spinning and cars are not what they used to be....

So, my timely reminders are:

1. It all looks so easy when the trainer explains it to you.  Yes, seems so straightforward when you are an observer.  When the trainer leaves and you are in traffic, working out where the indicator is and how to get in to reverse, it is not as simple as it seems.

So big AHA for me is:

Follow the DEDICT model because rapid-fire explanations of new skills just waft over people's heads - 



Demonstrate Slowly




2. Allow for question time.  If all the instructions descend on a learner without time for questions, the learning is simply not embedded.  If the learner is not asking questions, they are not absorbing the information.  Prompt them to ask questions as they might be fearful of showing themselves up as not being up to speed on things.

Research shows that the best way of reviewing your work before an exam, is to respond to questions.  If you ask yourself questions about the information, and practice recalling that information, this will greatly improve your ability to recall items on the test.

3. Build your empathy quotient.  Yes, you as a trainer know the material backwards and forwards.  You have been through it several times and can probably do it in your sleep.  BUT your learner is not in that fortunate position - they might be seeing things for the very first time and might be at the stages of unconscious or conscious INcompetence. 

They are experiencing feelings ranging from fear through to nervousness and even anxiety.
If we do not acknowledge these feelings, we risk undermining their confidence and as the stress factor rises, so retention decreases. 

4. Building confidence is sometimes more important than the skills themselves!  When the learners feel good about themselves, they are more likely to try out the new skills in many different contexts.  

When the vehicle was at a standstill, I had time to think through all the options.  When I was out on the road and the circumstances varied, suddenly moments of panic emerge as I encountered situations where I had to really think carefully before responding.

I was lucky to  be able to draw on my experience as a driver in the past and if we as trainers can make the links to what is known by the learners, there is a better chance that they will feel that level of confidence to try out the new stuff.

5.  Praise and praise!!  Positive reinforcement has been an old tool in the bag and it is still very effective.  

Have a look at our Train the Designer program to build your bench strength in learning design:

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