Accelerating skills-development sessions at the workplace

Confession — I know the headline’s a little lame. It had to be that way… “learning and development” (L&D) is considered “lame” by executives. Particularly the “cost-conscious” ones who would be happy to throw the L&D under a bus during lean times. Sure, they may be valid reasons to do that, but isn’t that always the case?

Sorry, I digressed. I am happy to argue that some other time. Today I wanted to share an insight I’ve had last night — it’s about how we deliver training programs in organizations and communities (public workshops and the like). I’ve always found them to be inadequate, not in terms of the content but contentedness. There hasn’t been a single workshop where I haven’t had that feeling of actually “missing” something. Perhaps that’s got to do with the approach.

A typical training workshop is pretty simple:

  1. Agenda
  2. Presentation
  3. Activity
  4. Presentation
  5. Applications
  6. Recap
  7. Goodbye!

That’s it! There’s no follow-up in place! In fact, the following is widely known:

Research on the forgetting curve shows that within one hour, people will have forgotten an average of 50 percent of the information you presented. Within 24 hours, they have forgotten an average of 70 percent of new information, and within a week, forgetting claims an average of 90 percent of it. Some people remember more or less, but in general, the situation is appalling, and it is the dirty secret of corporate training: no matter how much you invest into training and development, nearly everything you teach to your employees will be forgotten.

Brain Science: The Forgetting Curve–the Dirty Secret of Corporate Training

You’ll agree that’s a WASTE of everyone’s time and resources. Sure, there are ways to incorporate post-training elements into your program design like social learning, refresher courses and the like. But how effective would that be? At the end of the day, telling is far less effective than actually heightening the participant’s level of self-awareness.

A solution?

I don’t have one. At least not something I can call a finished product but an idea that’s still in the draft stage. I believe if this is well-executed we may see some solid breakthroughs in the skills-development and behavioral coaching realm (if I say so myself… ahem). Here’s the rough draft:

  1. Training Program (1-2-3 day program): to disrupt everyone’s thinking and create awareness
  2. 1-on-1 coaching (3-6-12 sessions): supplementing the training with personalized coaching that heightens the awareness, gives just-in-time coaching and feed-forwards while applying the new learnings on the job and create lasting change

That’s a cool 1-2 punt. I know there have been studies around this and I have reasons to believe that this is a no-brainer! In fact, this is the best way to not just solidify learnings but deepen them further for lasting results.

Like I said, it’s a work in progress but worthy of sharing here and wherever I can. If you’re a training or a coach yourself, I would encourage you to tinker with this and let me know if you’re able to think of something radical or take this ideal to an even higher level.

Exciting times!