Isn't it about time we hunted down and laid to rest lectures as a way to teach employees?
New Moon just opened in theatres, so maybe that's why I have vampires on my mind.
But as I was looking over yet another mailing filled with dry "training" books and canned lectures, I could not help but think of putting a stake deep into the heart of this long-since-dead training method and making the corporate world a whole lot safer for the rest of us.
We all know that standing at the front of a classroom talking at a group of people who would rather be almost anywhere else that this is a lousy way for one adult to teach other adults. Heck, we've suffered through it ourselves since elementary school and well into our professional careers. Over and over and over. And yet we do it.
Thank about what you and I and almost everyone else does during a training lecture...
We sit. We fidget. We doodle. We check our watches a dozen times, then count our blessings when the lecture is over, hoping no one answers the call for "Questions, anyone?"
How much learning do you think goes on in that kind of setting? So why, why, why are we STILL doing it?
Some alternatives to turning employees into glazed-eyed zombies drawing endless circles and squiggly lines on their notepads....
1) Give your employees something to read about whatever it is they're supposed to be learning. Oh, and make it entertaining. Boring is NOT more professional -- it's just boring.
2) And give them someone or something to watch so they can SEE how the process works. Again. Scrap the boring. Make them smile and their learning curve goes up. An example?
3) Let them try it out. Yes, they may mess up. But they will learn much faster and understand much better if they work through it with their own two hands. If it works for brain surgery -- that's what internships and residency are all about, after all -- it will certainly work for most of the things your company needs employees to do. Learning by doing. Or at the very least, a simulation of doing, followed by for-real doing.
4) If it's not something that can be taught by doing because it's an attitude or a personal skill, let them pretend they're doing it. Or trying to stop someone else from doing it. Or someone is doing it to them. This role-playing approach works great for intangible lessons like discrimination, harassment prevention or managing a group of difficult, opinionated, clueless...opps, sorry. Got off the track a bit there.
Back to what I was saying....
The only part of training employees that really matters is actually TRAINING them! Seat warming and doodling does nothing for them, for you, or for your company.
Get people out of their chairs and get them engaged in whatever it is they're learning.
If it matters that they learn it, make sure your training will actually teach them.