Bad Training Results Chalked Up to Employee Forgetfulness? I Don’t Think So.

business man frustrated with a bad learning design experience

I saw an article recently at the Chief Learning Officer website. It was titled, “It Happens. Employees Forget What They’ve Learned.”

Uh, no, it doesn’t just happen.

If all your employees forget the training they’ve had, you don’t need reminders.

You don’t need to consistently deliver material to make it stick.

You need to collaborate with managers to design learning programs for job application.

The article cites a survey that says 45% of employees spend 15 minutes per week looking up what was taught in a training session. The survey goes on to cite the problem as “infrequent training engagements” and incorrect retention tools. To those claims I say nope and nope again.

Rather than saying we have poor retention and must pour money into retention tools, instead address the reason for poor retention.  What about our process leads to poor retention?

I am not a big fan of Band-aid solutions. Instead of sending out reminders, we should concentrate on what it takes to make learning stick.

Does Your Experience Match The “Forgetfulness” Survey?

If your experience with learning programs matches what this survey says, how happy are your bosses? How happy are they with the amount of money being spent on learning programs? Do they see your value as a business partner or must you fight for every dollar in your training budget every year?

If you answered yes to any of the above, then I have good news for you. This is all fixable. And it’s fixable by simply learning and then using proper instructional design and measurement practices.

In an earlier post, I talked about why design standards are essential for learning measurement. This post is closely tied to that one. Most in our profession understand adult learning. However, most have no clue about learning program design. Our industry remains unregulated, so there are few guidelines. Historically, our field has been populated by trainers who did not have the benefit of formal instructional design education. Rather our field grew by an influx of subject matter experts (SMEs). The result was a belief that anyone who knew a subject could train others on that subject.

I’m not knocking SMEs. In fact, SMEs are essential for learning program content. However, subject expertise must now be matched with instructional design expertise. That link is necessary if our profession wants to be taken seriously.

Learning Retention Is Corrected By Proper Design and Measurement

Today, our profession sits at a crossroad. Business budgets are tight and funds for learning programs are even tighter. Our stakeholders and business leaders demand our expertise. They don’t accept that employees simply forget their learning. They want us to deliver a program that sticks. They want to see proof of retention and proof of business impact. They want to know that dollars spent on learning programs are worthwhile.

Instead of spending training dollars on retention tools to send reminders, we can improve retention by simply aligning our design with the business outcomes.  Learners remember what is important to them, they remember what helps them do their jobs better. When we design for job impact and measure the outcomes from learning and application, we create a culture where all stakeholders are engaged in the process and learning is naturally retained.

With design skills, you can provide those data points and more. What are the design skills you need to create training that sticks?

  • Work with business stakeholders to design learning focused on job application.
  • Architect learning with clearly aligned goals, objectives, and outcomes.
  • Use measurable objectives that are written for job performance.
  • Break down complicated concepts to a simpler form to enable understanding.
  • Group simple ideas together to create understanding of complex methods/concepts.
  • Measure and evaluate the performance of your objectives in knowledge and behavior terms.
  • Incorporate measurement at the post and transfer levels to solidify learning as a process, not an event, for both learners and the organization.

What outcomes do your stakeholders expect from learners? At a minimum, learners must know the material presented and then apply that knowledge on the job. When your programs are designed correctly, this improvement in learning should show up, in a measurable way, as improved organizational performance.

So where do your design skills stand? Do you find employees “forgetting” what they’ve “learned” in your programs? If you want to master instructional design technique then contact us at eParamus. You can learn the skills needed to create, evaluate, and measure your learning programs. The Measurable Instructional Design® Certification can set you and your learning programs on the right path.

Please follow eParamus on LinkedIn and feel free to connect with me, Laura Paramoure, PhD to tell me more about your training challenges.

Photo copyright: dotshock / 123RF Stock Photo


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