Last month, we published the results from our 2018 Learning and Remembering Survey. In the survey, we asked 119 L&D professionals what challenges they face when attempting to deliver effective corporate training. Here are the most common responses:
At over 38 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 – we all face time restrictions every day. In the case of training, some respondents focused more on their lack of time to create and launch effective training. Others emphasized the limited time that employees have to devote to training. Whether one or both of these constraints is more of an issue for you, time can make it very difficult to get the desired results from training.
Where is training on your priority list?
Good training takes time and effort. But lots of teams are fighting other, larger fires and training often takes a back seat to more pressing issues. This is particularly true if your business unit focuses primarily on something other than training, such as product management, sales, or marketing. For example, it may sometimes be necessary for you to provide training to an audience on a new product or process, but this is not your primary role. Ultimately, something gets prioritized ahead of training and time slips away.
“Every training need was needed yesterday.”
Isn’t that the truth? This quote came from one of our survey participants and since you’ve read this far, I’d be surprised if it doesn’t resonate with you.
Where is training on your learners’ priority lists?
Time is not just a problem for those of you who create learning experiences. Our learners are the ones who must make time to participate in training. Or if training is mandatory and learners don’t have a choice, their level of engagement and commitment will play a large role in how much they learn. Other survey participants mentioned challenges related to reaching their busy audiences:
- Competing priorities
- Time isn’t built-in for follow-up/reinforcement
- Learners don’t want to invest time in themselves (low motivation)
- Learners are out in the field
- Too much content and too little time
- Fast-paced environment
How do we beat the time crunch?
As you can see, finding time for training is a persistent, pervasive challenge. Whether you are the one who needs to train a group of learners or one of the learners who needs training, there is a good chance that training doesn’t fit neatly into your schedule. Here are six possible solutions to consider that can potentially help solve the corporate training time issue for both yourself and your learners.
1. Start with your desired outcome and work backward
Is training really the answer? Often we must “slow down to speed up.” Investing some of that precious time to confirm the business problem, analyze the target learner, and understand where business needs and learner needs intersect will help you make the best use of everyone’s time. A task analysis can be especially useful if you wish to understand what learners’ days look like. Design thinking tools such as empathy maps and journey maps are also useful.
Are your sales reps always on their phones? Create a mobile game they can play on-the-go. Do employees like to get together after work for dinner and drinks? Offer gift cards as an incentive to complete a training module. Once you get inside your learners’ heads, you’ll better understand what is going to motivate them to want to take your training, and more importantly, want to make time to learn and grow.
2. Separate design and development
It is usually a smart approach to split design and development into two separate phases. By doing so, you can confirm the business need, conduct analysis, and do a combination of the approaches I suggest above before jumping into development. You’re more likely to create a realistic plan that will require the least amount of re-work possible. Design proofs and functional prototypes are especially useful during the transition from design to development to ensure the right stuff gets created.
3. Streamline your process wherever possible
If the timeline is an issue, consider what pieces of your training curriculum you can create in rapid authoring tools. For example, we often incorporate Knowledge Guru games as reinforcement activities within a larger curriculum because they are extremely quick to create. Articulate Rise is a great option if you want to rapidly produce mobile-first content.
Selecting the right tools is just the beginning. You’ll also want to make sure your subject matter experts (SMEs) are ready to provide source content and review deliverables at the appropriate times. And if at all possible, try to limit the number of reviewers to as few as possible to avoid a case of “too many cooks in the kitchen.”
4. Look for opportunities to “template” your training
For reoccurring training initiatives, it often makes sense to create a sustainable “frame” for your training that you can easily edit and re-use for future, similar training initiatives. A templated approach is not always appropriate, but it has the potential to save a lot of development time and cost.
5. Focus on performance support
According to the 70-20-10 model, training is only 10% of workplace learning. And if we look at the model in its original format, 50-20-10-5-5, formal training is only 5%. The greatest opportunity to reach busy employees is, of course, on the job and in the flow of work. Rather than assuming formal training is the default answer, consider how your team can create an “ecosystem” of tools that enable learners to find what they need when they need it.
6. Use microlearning (where appropriate)
Sales reps 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.
Microlearning is often touted as the answer to shrinking timelines and learner availability for training. Unfortunately, there is a lot of confusion out there about what microlearning is… and isn’t. Our own Sharon Boller writes a lot about microlearning, and I also encourage you to read Patti Shank’s thorough exploration.
Long story short: microlearning can be highly useful as a reinforcement tool that reinforces and deepens learning. It also can be a part of a performance support strategy. It isn’t a replacement for a deep, immersive learning experience in of itself.