Saturday, September 19, 2015

Fundamental Truth... Management Behold.





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Thursday, September 3, 2015

Bad Bad Training


Another Induction


How many times have you attended an induction or compulsory company training that is an absolute waste of your time?

I've recently sat through another one with a new client. While the trainer (the Safety and Compliance Officer) was trying her best to do a good job, the material was not helping her. The slides must have been wordsmithed by a recent MBA graduate and junior manager at head office that drew the short straw. Attendees are still digging their way through: "correctional remediation and compliance validation...". This was induction material for digger drivers and welders!

The "cheap and easy" alternative to "out of place" in-person induction and training is to take the toddler approach: Pop in a video/DVD, add some lollipops and popcorn, and hope for the best that something sticks. At least the attendee box is ticked. The checkbox for "made an effort" still comes up empty.

Once the consultants get involved, you are trapped in the LMS maze (Learning Management System). Here you are really held captive. The dreary voice-over, the bad cartoons, and the static contextless images is only trumped by the mindless infantile quizzes that follows. You have to click through it. Click, click, click, if you like it or not, else it keeps coming back like a boomerang from hell.

Wasted Opportunity


Considering the indirect cost of poor induction, it is unbelievable that companies are not trying to do a better job. A quick tally of the direct cost alone, is frightening (and this excludes any compliance training that is mandated by the authorities): Ten attendees and a trainer in 2 hour training at an average direct cost of $100/hour: $2,000 per session. Do this once a week, and you are looking at $8,000 - $10,000/month in overhead. A whopping $100,000 a year, exlcuding expenses such as travel time, coffee and pencils! Add to this the mistakes, re-do and fixes due to poor induction and policy awareness: Huge costs. Inefficient employees not knowing what is expected. More cost. Staff loyalty: Don't get me started on that one.

Companies have no choice. They have to induct and train. Basic coverage is now mandatory for health and safety. It is the law in many jurisdictions. Why then waste the opportunity when companies are paying for it anyway?

Here are the basic areas where companies no longer have a choice:

  • Induction: Some form of orientation about the company's culture, policies and procedures. Considering the rate of change in many businesses, these may require refreshers at least once a year.
  • Health and Safety: The law requires this be done, and compliance have to be proven.
  • Policy Compliance: Key policies vary from industry to industry, but the good old ones stick around: Conflict of Interest, Environment, Diversity, etc. Training usually covers the policy, and is light on the application.
In some areas companies can maximise their training investment. Those have the potential to substantially benefit a business:
  • Systems and Processes: I've lost count of the number of software deployments and process changes that fail simply because training and orientation is not done, or poorly executed. Why spend millions on a new IT system, and not show people how to use it properly?
  • Efficiencies and Improvements: Companies can help people to learn how to do their jobs better. Amazingly, not only will the business be better off, but people may actually like their jobs if they are given a chance to learn new things.

The available methods for corporate training is a huge growth area. There is an explosion of resources available to companies that takes training and education seriously. There is video, animation, simulations and more becoming available due to on-demand and mobile technology.

However, as with most resources, it is not having it that makes it valuable. It is how you use it that makes the difference. One such resource is the use of Online Video in training. Here are some thoughts on how to make video work better for your company's training efforts.

Video Doesn't Train: 

Here is news for you: A video doesn't train or induct. It merely imparts information in a more or less effective way.

Pointers for effectively using video for training:

  • Involvement: For video to train, it needs to involve/include the viewer and mentally/physically encourage participation. Many current training videos are from an observer's perspective, not a participant's view. When one makes training video with the staff of the company imparting the information, it entices and incentivise their commitment through involving them in the material. The video must be entertaining to encourage involvement. Stories and scenarios entertain, and is foundational to this approach.
  • Participation: Viewers engage when they can identify with the characters in the video. By using staff, one shows what they do through familiar images, language and instruction. If they "teach each other" it has more value than if a voice over with pictures, animation, or trainer lectures on the material.
  • Good Structure: Videos need to be better structured and the topics more clearly delineated. A good practice is to clearly demarcate every idea/topic in a separate video. A good practice includes a scenario where one: "Tells it, Shows it, Explains it, Reviews it."
  • Tempo: The video topics need to be communicated in an upbeat and faster pace, else the viewer becomes distracted and bored. It is better to use a collection of short videos, than one long video. Most people cannot focus on a video for more than 3-5 minutes (no matter how entertaining). Television advertisement interruptions have conditioned us for short video. A long video needs a material scene/topic/emotion change at least every 3 to 5 minutes to be engaging (if a long video is used at all).
  • Key Messages: The key messages must be enforced with titles, freeze frames, recaps, examples (stories/scenarios) etc. to improve retention.
  • Refreshers: No one view of an induction video or series of training videos is enough to ensure effective material retention. People simply cannot remember when only exposed to it once - no matter how entertaining. Retention improves dramatically if the messages are reviewed, refreshed and reminders included. The recommended refresh rate to commit material to long term memory is three to five times within a 3 week period, and refreshed once every 6 months subsequently.
  • Enforcement: In today's compliance climate a company has to demonstrate evidence of the training, participation and comprehension validation. To meet these demands, training must be complemented with notices, quizzes, contests and more, with positive incentives for participants. Training cannot stand alone anymore. It must evolve to be part of the companie standard communications strategy.
  • Commitment: When staff is part of "training each other" by being involved in the process (the making of the video, feedback, quizzes, competitions, etc.) then it builds commitment and co-responsibility. The company's "training" becomes a key communication channel that can contribute to better staff engagement and effective communication. 

Conclusion


Video training has the potential to transcend the training event by building a campaign for safety, orientation, compliance and effective communication.

Companies that take care to train their staff is halfway towards building a great business. If these businesses can do it well, with our help then training becomes a real competitive advantage.  It only makes good business sense that if a job has to be done, one might as well decide to do it well.

We have some expertise to help. Give us a call today.

Hendrik van Wyk



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