Remember when you were new to learning and development? If you really are new, congratulations and welcome to the field! If you’ve been around for a little while, I want you to think back: what do you wish you could tell your former self about what he/she is getting themselves into?
Maybe you would warn “past you” about how easy it is for learners to tune out during training. Or perhaps you would tell a cautionary tale about how upper management is not easily convinced that the creative approaches you will want to try are worth the investment. I’m sure you’d want to mention just how often the content you need to teach changes, and how you are often left with too much to cover and too little time to do so.
Are any of these challenges yours? According to our 2017 Learning and Remembering Survey, there’s a good chance they might be. We asked 150 L&D professionals what challenges they face when attempting to deliver effective training. Here are the most common responses:
As you probably noticed, the most common training challenges cited are highly interrelated. For example, lack of time to either create effective training or participate in training could lead to low learner engagement and lack of knowledge transfer. And because this often leads to poor results, managers are unlikely to support future training endeavors. Without this support, it’s hard to come by the budget and buy-in needed to do training right.
If only your former self had known what was coming! Let’s take a closer look at the top six training “pitfalls” that came up in the survey results.
Not enough time for training
At over 21 percent, the number one challenge people cited in the survey is a lack of time for training. I’m sure this comes as no surprise – organizations face time restrictions every day. This is especially true when trying to squeeze training into employees’ busy schedules. Constraints like these can make it seem impossible to create training that really makes an impact.
The solution? Consider breaking training up into smaller chunks. Your busy employees need something quick and easy to access. Sales reps, for example, are out in the field most of the day and have little time to sit down at a laptop. Call center reps work in high production environments where they’re on the phone all day with limited time for anything else. Most people simply don’t have time to take training all at once. But microlearning could be a good solution to help people fit learning into their busy schedules.
Learners aren’t motivated or engaged
How much of your company’s training only exists to check the box? How often is your job ready to comply with regulations or teach basic, routine procedures that employees must follow? It’s easy to see how training like this can become rather dull and why this was the second-most mentioned challenge in the survey. And when employees take this training, it’s no surprise that they disengage and fail to see how what they are learning impacts their job or their organization.
In a recent project, we partnered with a mining company to revamp their onboarding and annual refresher program. The goal was to connect compliance training with business needs while creating an engaging learning environment. The curriculum uses gamification, game-based learning and hands-on activities instead of standard lectures to engage employees. While these approaches were needed to increase engagement, the most important thing we did was help learners see how day-to-day processes they were learning connected to the big picture. And learners who understand the ‘why’ will usually produce better results.
Managers and stakeholders don’t buy in
In the survey, lots of respondents also mentioned their struggle to get managers and stakeholders to buy into a new training program. For example, maybe everyone agrees your company training is outdated and deserves a fresh new look. But one stakeholder isn’t convinced that training is the answer to your problem. They argue that past training experiences failed and wonder, “What will training really fix?”
We know from experience that training can change a learner’s knowledge, behaviors and attitudes as long as it’s planned carefully and designed to meet specific objectives. This is why we perform rigorous analysis upfront to identify a company’s pain point. We also identify what the course/curriculum should lead to as an output in learning knowledge, behaviors and attitudes, and why content has to be specifically focused on those objectives.
Training doesn’t lead to knowledge transfer or retention
Oftentimes, organizations expect their employees to learn and remember everything. Knowledge retention is important because you don’t want to spend a lot of time and money to create and implement a learning solution that no one will remember. Yet stakeholders and designers make choices every day that thwart training efforts and result in wasted dollars that yield no result. Learners take a training course, return to the job site, and don’t apply what they learned because they don’t remember what they were taught.
If it’s so easy to forget, how do we get people to remember? We know from experience that short-term learning strategies aren’t the best solution. But the right training can make a significant impact on the success of your training plan. It should be designed in a way that helps learners remember by teaching and reinforcing key skills and knowledge. This is why you must carefully consider learning science during the instructional design process.
Problems with technology and accessibility
Lots of organizations also face challenges when it comes to technology and training accessibility. While learners might prefer a more “anytime, anywhere” approach to learning, the L&D department struggles to put the tools and technologies in place to make it happen. The IT department and existing mobile device usage policies are often roadblocks to mobile learning adoption.
What sets successful learning technology implementations apart from the rest is usually not the new technology itself, though that should obviously be good and suitable for the target learner. The real difference-maker is implementation. You need a way to objectively evaluate technologies and separate the good from the bad. We’ve come up with this simple technology checklist to help you out.
Not enough budget for effective training
Funneling money into learning and development hasn’t always been viewed as a good way to spend company budget. This is because it’s hard to predict the impact training actually has on company performance. Sometimes, organizations may not see the outcomes they want from past training and may be reluctant to invest in future training.
We recommend you show stakeholders why the training matters and how it connects to the business goal. We also recommend using automated tools or templates that already have a learning framework in place. You need a tool that allows you to deliver high-end training and one that is much more cost effective than building a learning solution from scratch. Knowledge Guru is one such tool; others exist as well.