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Four Ways to Ensure Your Training Fits Every Learner

— by Jay Forte

Employee trainingLearning and developmentLearning developmentTraining

I distinctly remember a classroom program a colleague and I presented to our corporate office several years ago. We were sharing ways for the corporate support staff to work more closely with the field service operations — to make their contact an “event.”

We decided, since the idea was to transform their communications from ordinary to extraordinary, to design the training program in a similarly “extraordinary” way. We taught four programs to 120 people in four days, with a different “theme” every day. We had a day for “Wild West” day, game show day, Survivor day, and A Night at the Oscars day.

We had fun teaching. The employees had fun, too, and learned a lot. And their field operations support improved almost immediately. At the end of the program, our evaluations showed that 110 people “loved” the program, nine “liked” it, and one person said, “May I never have to sit though a program like that again.”

Ouch. I know it was only one person, but what did we do wrong to alienate a learner so much?

Luckily he signed the evaluation, so I was able to contact him and ask where we went wrong. He bluntly told me that his preferred method of learning was reading and trying things on his own. No fanfare. No games. No teambuilding. He was a self-directed learner.

In our exuberance to make learning both an event and to have some fun, we forgot that all great education programs (whether online or in a classroom) are a blend of techniques to allow all learners to participate. Oftentimes, the way materials are delivered is the reason a learner fails to learn.

With that in mind, be sure to check in on the following things as you design your next training program:

  1. Do your materials accommodate all learning styles?
  2. Can you offer your learners a choice of instructional methods to help them find the most effective one for them?
  3. Are there clear expectations of how to implement learning materials to make a specific and measurable difference in performance?
  4. Will all learners find value in both the materials and the delivery methods (options) so they can — and want — to learn?

I’m aware I can’t change an entire program around for one learner, but it was a great reminder that we could have done a better job of blending in some other learning styles to our program. Our next programs were better balanced. Lesson learned.

More: How Training Can Get Employees Out of a Performance Rut.

Jay Forte is a nationally ranked thought leader and President of Humanetrics. Jay guides organizations — their leaders and managers — in how to attract, hire and retain today’s best talent. He is the author of Fire Up! Your Employees and Smoke Your Competition and The Greatness Zone – Know Yourself, Find Your Fit, Transform The World. Jay is a member of SHRM, ASTD, the National Speakers Association and the Florida Speakers Association. Follow him on Twitter.

Image via EMR Straight Talk.

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