January 8

3 Simple Steps to Ignite Learning and Growth

Honestly...the whole training, development, and learning world has become so confusing. Do you want to know the real reason for this? Simple, people are trying to sell what they have developed but not necessarily what you need. On top of this, there are literally tens of thousands of different possibilities in a multi-billion dollar market. So how do you cut through this to get what you and your people need? Let me help you with that.

Purpose of Training and Development

The purpose of training and development comes down to one thing, changing something. Change behavior, change skills, change competencies, change cognitive capabilities, change capacity, change leadership impact. These are a few examples of the outcomes we would like to see from training and development. They all have one thing in common, change.

What do employers think training and development will do for their people:

  • Enhanced Job Satisfaction: Providing training opportunities contributes significantly to overall job satisfaction among employees. It demonstrates the organization's commitment to their growth and can lead to a more motivated and engaged workforce.
  • Increased Productivity: Training and development programs can lead to improved employee performance and productivity, as they equip employees with new skills and knowledge relevant to their role.
  • Improved Employee Retention: Training and development opportunities can help in retaining top talent. Employees often value the chance to develop their skills and are less likely to resign when they see opportunities for growth within their current organization.
  • Empowerment and Engagement: Engaging employees through training programs can empower them, making them feel more connected to their work and the organization. This can lead to higher job satisfaction and reduced turnover rate.
  • Meeting Future Needs: Training helps in preparing employees for future roles and responsibilities, ensuring the organization has a pool of skilled talent ready to step into new challenges or leadership roles.

15 Benefits of Employee Training and Development

Employee Training and Development: The Benefits

The Benefits of Employee Training and Development

5 Benefits of Training and Development

These are great outcomes. But in most training and development offerings there is a disconnect. Usually, they do well in providing the knowledge but how the knowledge is presented is critical in engaging the learner.

21st Century - Learning and Development

Several years ago, I saw a study that really caught my attention. The amount of input we get in one day is more than our grandparents received in one year. Think about that. Our brains have not changed very much in two generations. This was several years ago. Add to that the fact that the amount of information in our world is doubling every 9-12 months, and is projected to increase that pace in the future. That is staggering to consider. How can we possibly keep up?

Keep learning, training, and development simple. I have been using the term F.I.T. for almost a decade. It stands for Focused Intentional Transformation. A few years ago I become a certified Advanced Trainer. This certification is based on the neuroscience of how our brains work, learn, retain information, and develop new skills. This changed everything for me in how I approach training and development. Here are critical insights from my learning and experience:

  • The old methods of training and development are ineffective. 90% of what someone learns in a one day seminar is lost immediately when they walk out the door. The remainder fades over the next two weeks. Online learning (asynchronous learning) is better since it allows ongoing access but its success is dependent on the motivation of the learner and the format it is presented in.
  • People have different learning styles. Some are visual, others audible, and others hands on learners. Are these elements embedded in the training and development process to ensure every type of learner is served well?
  • People are busier today than ever before. True, some of that activity may not be productive, but it is the reality. Learning, training, and development must fit into busy schedules in a way that adds value.
  • People are being asked to do more and wear multiple hats. Training and development has to be more than just hard skills development, it needs to include soft skills. Skills that enhance capacity, agility, resilience, confidence, and emotional intelligence.

An EAR for Growth

In that certification I mentioned, I learned something that transformed how training and development should be done. As good as the information is that we are providing, that is only part of a successful training and development process. If we want people to "buy" what we are "selling", we have to focus on their needs. Remember, the purpose of learning, training, and development is change...and that means change in them.

I promised "3 Simple Steps for Learning and Growth". Here they are:
  • E - Engage - engage the learner in a way that ignites curiosity and a desire to learn. This can be through stories, videos, or any method to get them "leaning forward" in their chair to learn more. New knowledge should be given in "bite size" chunks. Allowing the learner to focus (digest) the new learning before moving on to additional new knowledge. This allows the brain to process the new information, categorize it, and start to consider ways it might be used.
  • A - Activate - this is taking the new knowledge and information and putting it into action. Practice it, use it, apply it. This is where the head knowledge becomes applied knowledge. This is a hands on approach to learning that has its own learning opportunities. It is where experiential learning happens, a critical learning and growth phase.
  • R - Reflect - taking the time to reflect on what was learned and applied. What worked? What did not work? What could be adapted or revised to work better? What was learned through the activate phase? What does the learner want to know more about? The reflection process is absolutely critical to lock in the learning. It also provides direction on next steps.
  •  Think of this as a cycle, actually a spiral, that grows over time. You don't go through the cycle once and stop. It is a continuous learning and development cycle/spiral that produces valuable growth.

    The EAR Test

    When you evaluate learning, training, and development options, apply the EAR test. If all three of these elements are not clearly evident, look somewhere else. Spending on training and development is rapidly approaching $100 billion a year. Small companies have the greatest need as their people are tasked with multiple priorities. Choosing the right training and development can make the difference between simply surviving and truly thriving.

    Next Level Approach

    Taking all of this into account, there is an even more impactful approach. Customized and guided learning, growth, and development. How does this work? Just this week we are launching LifeThrive University, a partnership of aligned training and development professionals that provide a guided approach to development for individuals, leaders, and organizations. How is it different than anything else?

    • Assess - we use a package of assessments (many proprietary) that provide both diagnostic and predictive insights. This provides clarity and direction.
    • Equip - from the assessment data, a specific learning and development roadmap is created and resources deployed for the individual based on their needs, their goals, and their desired outcomes.
    • Align - through a built in accountability process, progress is tracked, specific projects are accomplished, and new skills are tested to ensure goal achievement.
    • Succeed - individuals completing their learning and development efforts are certified in specific areas of skill development.
    This is not intended as a commercial, though it may sound like one. It is intended to provide an example of how to combine multiple sciences with proven methods to give the learner the best possible experience and outcomes.

    Invest in Developing People

    Investing in developing people is not only important, it has high ROI when done right. Unfortunately, many organizations with good intentions are not getting the results they want or need. There are several reasons for this:

    • They try a DIY (do it yourself) approach. This usually takes the form of reading a book together and discussing it. This is great for relationship building but has very little impact on long-term skill development or growth.
    • Buy it off the shelf approach - many organizations like the ease of buying a service or package of training and development. This makes implementation easier but lacks specificity. One size simply does not fit everyone.
    • Flavor of the month approach - providing training and development sporadically and with no real alignment or integration into achieving strategic goals. Again, little long-term impact.
    • Most likely approach - do nothing. It is simply too complicated or confusing.

    The vast majority of people will admit that developing people is a good idea. Remember the joke about the CEO and the CFO talking about developing people?

    CEO: We need to invest in developing our people.

    CFO: But what happens if we do that and then leave us?

    CEO: What happens if we don't and they stay!

    Funny...not funny! Right?!

    Do I have a bias about learning, training, and developing people? Absolutely! But that bias comes from a desire to see people excel, to grow, to gain skill and confidence, to have the impact they desire to have. It is my passion and purpose.

    So for those who want the "bottom line", the right development program will bring a minimum of 400% ROI. I have personally seen that number as high as 2600% ROI in one organization. Where else can you get that kind of return? As an added bonus, culture gets better, engagement levels go up, and people are more satisfied and energized. There really is no downside.

    Let me leave you with this. That old adage: Keep it Simple Steve (adapted from the original) works really well. Keep that in mind as you decide how you want to invest in developing people (including yourself).


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