Not everyone learns the same, so we should provide trainings to meet the needs of every learner. ??Makes sense right? Unfortunatley many executive managers, human resources people and even trainers miss this wee little point. Some people do not learn in lecture format. At a company where I used to work, they thought the best way to teach how to use the new electronic medical record was to lecture us on it. It was like trying to learn to play the piano without being allowed to touch the keys. Then when they did let us try it, the instructors would inevitably get lost and make mistakes. Not real comforting when the teacher is saying “Hmmm not really sure how I got here.” Anyhow…there are many differnet learning styles. We will briefly review each one and what you need to include in a course to help each person learn.
First: Auditory, visual and/or kinesthetic. This is how people take in information. To complicate things, not everyone learns everything the same way. While I can be very in-tune and follow a person in a counseling session, if you try to tell me how to run a computer program or (Heaven forbid) drive somewhere—all bets are off. I need to see it and do it. Once I have driven somewhere once, I have no problem doing it again. Thank you GPS. In a classroom, this means providing a written outline, paper for note taking, using visual aids and having people discuss and apply the information to scenarios, or answer questions about the material.
Secondly: Active or reflective learners. Some of us think while we talk, others think and then talk. Active learners need to be engaged in the process, answering questions, filling in worksheets etc. Reflective learners will take it all in, digest it, then tell you what they have learned. It is helpful to take 3 or 5 minute breaks every 15 or 20 minutes to allow people to review the information, come up with any questions.
Third, there is a reason the military keeps meetings to under an hour. People zone out. There is a point of diminishing returns at which people just cannot handle anymore input—especially highly technical or complex material. If you have to have longer trainings, make sure to have accommodations for those who just constitutionally cannot sit still for that long. Have them help with the presentation. Break into small group activities every 20 minutes or so.
Finally teach the knowledge, skills and abilities you want them to learn. Too often teaching is reduced to a series of definitions (knowledge). Leadership is…. Good teams… However, many people who have gotten to a leadership position can define these terms, it is operationalizing them that they need to learn (skills and abilities). They know what morale is, but they need help figuring out how to improve it in their departments. It is sort of like therapy. Your patients would be very disappointed if they came into your office, and you told them what depression was, then dismissed them. They came because they want to learn how to deal with it.
So in short, individualize training the way you already individualize treatment and you will find great success!