Here’s a scenario you might be familiar with:
You’re trying to pay for some groceries when your card is declined. After a brief moment of panic, you pull out your smart phone. With a swipe and a couple of taps, you transfer funds from your bank account and make your purchases.
Over the past 20 years, technology has steadily evolved to streamline our lives and bail us out when we need it. But even as technology continues to make everything else we do faster, easier and more efficient, training seems to have been left in the dust.
The business world is still leaning heavy and hard on outdated technologies and ideas – things like decades-old training videos, long group sessions and enormous job manuals.
And while on-the-job training is important (mentorship and learning from experience are never going away), too many organisations are relying on existing staff to give up their time and energy to get new hires up to speed.
That kind of training is inconsistent and sporadic; staff pass on their knowledge, but also their bad habits. Worse, the time spent training a new hire comes directly out of their productivity and can add to their job stress, reducing job satisfaction and opening up a whole new can of worms.
Now to be fair, some organisations have taken their training online. The trouble is, they’ve brought the flaws of the past with them: Much-too-long modules, heavy manuals and information locked up behind a company intranet.
This all might sound a inconsequential, but here’s the thing…
Across all of those formats and their inefficiencies there are millions of dollars and thousands of hours going to waste that you may not even realise.
Take, for example, the traditional group training session. These are usually hours long; an administrator needs to be paid to deliver the material, and the training offered covers such an enormous range of information (including “Just in case” training) that learners can’t possibly retain it.
After all, studies have shown we learn best in short bursts.
By 15 minutes in, we’re already tuned out!
Or, consider the cost of maintaining, updating and reprinting job manuals – or the intangible cost of outdated information that causes confusion (wasted time) and human error (wasted money, lost opportunity).
And training waste doesn’t end with lost dollars on training materials: An undertrained employee will take much longer to become productive and become much more of a load to their peers in the process as they ask questions and muddle through their tasks.
In the same way we’ve used tech to cut down on wasted time and energy in other tasks, training is being redesigned to eat up less time and budget while giving you better prepared workers.
You just have to know how to use it.
1. Focus training on the learner
When you really think about it, training programs have actually been designed around the administrator for years:
Technology has made it possible to create training that:
2. Provide training at the point of need
Traditional training covers so much content because it’s a “just in case” approach. You cover everything someone *might* need in addition to the things they absolutely must know. The result? Both get watered down and tougher to remember.
With advances in tech – especially with mobile and cloud-based sharing – you can transition from “just in case” to “just in time”.
Instead of an employee having to madly tear through the notes they took on your last training session, they can pick up their phone, find exactly what they’re looking for with a few taps of their thumb and get back to being productive immediately.
There’s no lost information, no pestering other staff members – just the info the needed, right when they needed it in a place they could apply it and get on with their lives.
And because learners learn best in short bursts, technology allows us to mirror the way we retain information: Compact modules that deliver the information directly and in as few steps as possible.
3. Stay fluid & flexible
One of the greatest downfalls of other training formats is that they are static.
No matter what, training needs to be updated with time – but with some mediums, that’s very hard (and expensive) to do.
Training manuals need to be updated and reprinted – and by the time they’re off the presses, they may already be outdated. Presentations will need to be tweaked with new slides and new information will need to be crammed into what already exists.
Once again, tech is changing the game here. With cloud-based solutions, training can be updated in a flash. More compelling is that training can be crowd sourced to whomever is appropriate; anyone qualified and permitted who has knowledge to share is able to make a change and keep things current. There’s no reliance on just one administrator to wrangle the new information.
It’s streamlined, meaning better information for employees and less errors/omissions for your business.
It’s time for businesses to start rethinking their approach. If not for the benefit of the learner, then because the economics of cutting out waste and improving productivity just make good business sense.
If tech has allowed us to bank from anywhere, turn up our house thermostat on our way home from work and share anything with anyone at any time, then training is definitely due for a revolution of its own.
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