As I get older and wiser (one hopes for that anyway), I become more and more convinced that training needs to be as natural and uncontrolled as possible. That´s right uncontrolled — the less I try to control the training, the better it is. As a long-time recovering control freak, this has been a difficult journey for me. I love to control things! Not trying to control training is a wonderful thing. It takes some courage and confidence, but it always leads to a better outcome. This is also the case when managing meetings and projects.
The most effective learning sessions are not polished, practiced, or choreographed ahead of time. The best training sets the stage for something to happen and let´s things happen. This facilitator´s guide reflects these thoughts and does not offer scripts or minute-by-minute facilitation instructions. I don´t want the material presented in a polished way because I don´t think this approach will encourage application of the techniques.
You might call this the salon approach to training and I think this is the right method for management and leadership development programs. Salons are organic, stimulating, and transformative. Comments become catalysts that change how people approach their work.
10 Factors That Enhance Learning and Application
Here are my top 10 list of the factors that I think improve the application and habituation of learning:
The training needs to be built on a solid foundation. The techniques need to work. The theories ought to make sense. This may seem like something that does not need to be said, but I have attended training programs that were way off the weird scale. Managers don´t have time for this mumbo jumbo — they need real life concepts and practices that will help them get their jobs done today. Challenging the status quo is wonderful, but introducing something for the sake of being fun or intellectually stimulating is a waste of time and resources.
Let´s face it; famous people sell their concepts well. If your managers can see Marcus Buckingham, Tom Peters or Benjamin Zander in person (or even on DVD), that has power. What does this mean? Don´t be hesitant to get a famous face to say what you want to say. Open your training with an inspiring DVD or ask participants to read an article from the Harvard Business Review as prework. There are a lot of famous people saying the same things we are — use that! One caution — resist latching onto gimmicks, acronyms, or flavor of the month type stuff. Our managers have become very sick of this stuff and rightly so. I know this seems like a strange recommendation, but I have seen really smart people swoon over a sexy high profile business DVD. And this can help prime my audiance for a great conversation.
Are you a magnetic trainer? Magnetic trainers are people who others like to hang around with at work. They´re magnetic because people enjoy talking with them for some reason — maybe they´re fun, interesting, a great listener, or super smart. We all have qualities that help draw people toward us and we need to use that. If people like being with you, they will come to more training sessions and they will participate more fully. Both introverts and extroverts can be magnetic trainers. Being an awesome listener is likely a common trait most magnetic trainers share.