Choose Training That Sticks

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What is your company culture? Does your organization support regular employee training plans? Do you value training or consider it a “nice to have” but unnecessary kind of thing? Is “on the job training” enough for you and your staff? In the ever-evolving technologies of the communications industry, this is a really important topic to consider.

As a training company, we see the gamut when it comes to how people feel about training. There are companies that require formal training for most employees and include refresher training regularly. There are companies that don’t believe it is worth taking someone out of the field or the office at all — they can just learn as they go. Most companies fall somewhere in between.

What do you think about when you consider training? One of the struggles when learning new technology or skills is retention of the information learned. There are many ways to learn, and many people who are willing to teach. But, will it stick? Will you be able to recall it a week from now? A month from now? When you really need it 3 months from now?

Effective learning is multifaceted. We all learn in different ways, and it is important for educators and trainers to be cognizant of these differences and offer up different teaching methods to accommodate these needs.

Think about your learning experiences. What is your learning style?

Do you find a picture is worth a thousand words? Do you easily retain the details of a good story or a vibrant conversation? Does your best learning happen when you curl up with a book? Or do you like to just jump in and get your hands dirty?

Learning styles generally fit into 1 of 4 categories: Visual, Auditory, Reading/Writing, and Kinesthetic.

Visual Learners tend to learn best from flowcharts, graphics, or animations, that represent a concept.

Auditory Learners retain information best from conversations, lectures, discussions, and stories.

Reading/Writing Learners remember best through lists, manuals, glossaries, handouts, and notes.

Kinesthetic Learners acquire knowledge and skills best by doing and experiencing.

In order to ensure training materials meet the needs of all learners, courses and overall training design should balance all styles as much as possible.

Whether you do your own internal training or send employees to outside training, you should strive to meet the needs of all learners. Instructors should encourage student questions and participation during lectures to engage Auditory Learners. Presentations should include charts or diagrams, engaging graphics, animations and short video clips to entice Visual Learners. Comprehensive course manuals will enable Reading/Writing Learners to dive deeper into material. Finally, extensive lab/hands-on sessions let Kinesthetic Learners practice and internalize concepts.

Most of us understand the value of education and the right type of training. Not only do companies reap the benefits by having more effective staff and fewer costly errors, but they also reap the benefits of having employees who are more satisfied. An NCTI study within the CATV/Service Provider market indicated that 70% of technicians say training opportunities impact their decision to stay with a company. In the same study, half of technicians said they want and need more job-specific learning and development. People need training, and they seem ready to reward their employers with better work and less attrition! Seems like a win-win for employees and employers.

In the end, the key is to get the best value from your training dollars by choosing training and education opportunities that will stick with your staff. Choose the right training and be sure they will have some opportunity to apply the learning in order to reinforce it. Consider refresher training for skills that are critical — keeping bad habits at bay.

Finally, when planning for training and allocating time for employees to be out of the field or the office, choose wisely — but choose to make it happen. To quote Zig Ziglar: “The only thing worse than training people and having them leave is not training people and having them stay.”

About Author

Lee Kellett is General Manager, Light Brigade. She has more than 30 years of experience in the fiber optics industry working for AFL, Corning, Draka, Telco Systems and several connectivity companies. She has held positions in Engineering, Quality, Marketing and Product Management. Lee holds a BS in Mechanical Engineering from Worcester Polytechnic Institute. For more information, please email lee@lightbrigade.com or visit www.lightbrigade.com. Follow Light Brigade on Twitter: @LightBrigadeInc. Follow Lee on Twitter: @lhkellett.

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