To learn, people need to be prepared to acquire new knowledge and skills. They need to go through some type of training or skill building. And they need to practice and retain what was learned.
The best learning takes place when people have a mindset that is ready to learn. Until people understand the need to learn something new and want to be a part of a new future, it is hard to get people to act differently.
It is not uncommon to try to “force” people to comply with new ways of working by throwing them into a class and expecting that they will soak up the information and come out the other end of the class transformed.
Sorry, but it doesn’t happen that way!
Have you ever sat in a training class that your boss made you go to thinking, “This is complete a waste of time? Why am I even here?” Sadly, it is much more common than it should be.
To get people ready to learn, start by explaining why the learning needs to happen, how individuals will benefit, and what people’s new roles will be. Allow people to talk about the change and what will be expected. Give people some foundational information to get them started; like an overview or short CBT before dropping them into a boot-camp or a long training program. This gives people the chance to think about what they are about to learn before they jump all the way in.
Just as important as being ready to enter training, people need to have the right experiences while they are being trained.
This may seem obvious, but people should feel like they have safe environment in which to learn. Trying out new behaviors can seem risky in front of peers, bosses, or staff. If people feel threatened or unsafe, little learning will happen.
People need to feel like they are actively engaged in the learning process – not just being directed. And they need to believe that what is being learned is immediately useful. Practicality and relevance are critical to getting people to commit to learning.
Lastly, learning is not truly accomplished until new skills or knowledge have been retained and applied. Too often people go to a seminar or training program and think, “This is great! I can’t wait to use this back at my desk!” Then a month later, they look back and realize that they are not doing anything they talked about in the class.
People need to be able to integrate new ideas into what they already know if they are going to keep – and use – new information. People retain more if they get immediate practice. And reinforcement should be part of the learning process to ensure that what was trained is applied appropriately.
An organization teeming with learners is destined for a great future. Because strong minds fuel strong organizations.