Learning: Its Personal

What makes a great training course? We’ve done a lot of research on this, and worked with some great trainers to find the answer. And we’ve found that however strong the performance skills of the trainer, it is about how relevant the student finds it to them. A great course is one where the learner says: “It felt personalised to my needs and I could see exactly how I could apply it in my work”.

As a trainer are you more focused on the course objectives that you enter the training room with, or the personal needs of the specific individuals in that room? Here’s 3 tips on how to make it learner focused:

1) Introductions are vital. Establish rapport at the beginning. Find out how they are, what work they do, how they will use the software in their job, what they like and dislike about the software and what their fears are for the day. Will this take too long? This list comes from one of our trainers, Mike Barron, who emphasises the importance of spending time on the introduction. I popped into his class this week and talked to his students, who said it was the best course they’d ever been on. “Not a moment has been wasted. He’s made it absolutely relevant to our work.”

2) Personalise it. Once you know what work they do and how they expect to use the software, you can target questions at them. “How could a Table of Contents be useful in the Board reports you create, Ashad?”, “”Where could fixing formula through these absolute cell references be used in your stock reports, Elaine?”.

3) Be flexible. Your aim is to make your learners more effective in their job, not to cover the agenda. Be prepared to drop subjects. Be prepared to cover functions not on the outline. (But keep a structure: Learn, review, test – even if you are creating on the fly.)

Double the Benefits of Your Training
A learner focused course brings twice the benefits of a generic course. I know that from the post course analysis we do, following up students some time after their course. We ask them to estimate how much time they have gained from increased productivity and we ask about how the course was for them.

The average estimated saving for those who disagreed with the statement “The course was learner focused, responding to my individual needs” was 18 minutes per day. For those who agreed the average saving came out at 26 minutes and for those who strongly agreed it was 37 minutes.

The result was similar for the statement “I got the chance to discuss with the trainer the specific things I needed the software to do in my work”. Those who disagreed estimated their saving at 15 minutes. The average for those who agreed came out at 26 minutes and for those who strongly agreed it was 34 minutes.

Do you want to double the benefits that your learners get from your training? Then make each course a personalised learner-focused experience.

2 responses to “Learning: Its Personal”

  1. Henry,

    I think your focus on people is not only inspiring, but deeply prescient. We have to build management 2.0 (whatever that is) around human nature, rather than forcing people to conform to what the old management demanded. Most managers know very, very little about people in any real sense because they’ve never seen it as their jobs to learn about people.

    I think you’re pointing to the way forward. I’m happy to find Happy. Great work.

    Ken Carroll

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