21 January 2014

Ten training sins businesses commit

A lot of time and money spent on training is wasted, says US-based John Tschohl, President, Service Quality Institute, an organisation dedicated to helping businesses attract and keep customers, build market share, improve the performance of the entire workforce, and create a culture of delivering superior customer service. 

"Training costs a lot of money and takes a lot of time. Labour time is your single biggest cost. If participants aren't listening, then you've wasted all your money. Training that is poorly presented goes in one ear and out the other. It's no wonder employees don't change their attitudes or behaviours after they attend a badly presented training session," said Tschohl, who is often invited to present keynotes on customer service to companies worldwide.  

Tschohl, who has been in training for more than 40 years on six continents and is the author of "Achieving Excellence Through Customer Service," listed 10 'fails' in training:

1. Groups that are too large: You can't have a good group discussion if 100 people are in the room. Try to limit training sessions to 15 people so everyone has a chance to participate. If the group size is larger, most employees will not participate and hence will not change their behaviours or learn new skills. 

2. A handful of people monopolising the conversation: It's natural in groups for three people to speak up while everyone else stays silent. Facilitators must call on everyone in the room to participate. If people don't talk, they won't buy into the training goals.

3. Ineffective games: People don't like role-playing games. Games and exercises have to do with something that builds success as a team. People need to be actively involved in the exercise.

4. Complicated training concepts: If the material is not easily understood, it will not be implemented. Make sure the information is easily understood. Test the material on several small groups. Make adjustments and then roll out the final version to the entire organisation.

5. Monopolised by the facilitator: Facilitators should be seen and seldom heard. They should steer the conversation, but they should not dominate the discussion. They should ask leading questions of the participants and make sure everyone talks at some time. The facilitator is a juggler. He/she needs to keep the conversation going. The more discussion there is, the more likely attitudes and behaviours will improve.

6. Lectures: Remember how you fell asleep when boring lecturers spoke in university? Your employees are no different. Lectures are not an effective way to get people to change their attitudes and beliefs.

7. Irrelevant information: If the material is not relevant to their jobs, people will not accept the information. They want ideas they can use immediately.

8. Bad physical environment: Learning can't take place if people are not comfortable. Invest in a room that looks pleasant and professional. It sounds basic, but make sure the room is well heated or cooled and has comfortable seats. Offer refreshments. Add audio and video presentation equipment. Make sure there aren't any outside distractions, such as noise. 

9. Repeating the same training materials: A child can watch the same programme 50 times, but an adult can't watch the same training materials twice. Companies need to bring in new trainers who have new information and different teaching styles. Companies should also invest in new training materials to spice things up. 

10. Not considering young people's learning styles: The vast majority of workers are young people. They learn differently than previous generations and they get bored easily. Look at the games they play on their phones. They want to be entertained. If the training isn't entertaining, you lose the participation. 

"If you do it right, then training is a wise investment. If you make mistakes, it will hurt the company and the employees," Tschohl concluded.