A great opinion article by Tony Schwartz was published Saturday in the New York Times. Schwartz, chief executive officer of The Energy Project and the author, most recently, of “Be Excellent at Anything”, came with a message of QUALITY over QUANTITY in terms of worker productivity. In other words, from both the employee and supervisor perspective, allowing workers to take periodic breaks, more time away from the office, and longer, more frequent vacation, “boosts productivity, job performance, and of course, health.”
Schwartz calls this allowing for “strategic renewal”, and I think this is also relevant to training as well (I recommend reading the entire article, in the link posted above).
How many of us – as trainers or trainees – during training sessions find ourselves exhausted and ready for a break, long before one is scheduled? So many times people have been overwhelmed when starting a new position in a different company, with all the information that he/she is expected to absorb within an initial orientation period, to the point where (beyond feeling overwhelmed), much of the information goes in one ear and out the other.
When designing and scheduling training sessions, it’s important to keep in mind that a) people have limited attention spans, b) too much information at one time is not a good thing, and c) that it should not be forgotten that the goal of training a new employees is not for that to memorize a series of facts or instructions as the end all to be all, but rather, that in the long term, their talents are maximized and fully realized in a performance level that is as efficient and beneficial to the business overall. So let’s keep in mind the need for compact, and concise information, in relatively short time intervals is to the benefit of everyone involved.
In addition to the short time intervals of sessions, it would also be important to make them as engaging as possible, and – this should not be seen as an evil word in business – FUN. Let’s treat the worker well, and the worker, in return, will likely perform at a higher level. Furthermore, we shouldn’t think of training as a manual you open to learn how to operate a product when you first open the package. It’s important that business allow employees to continuously “train themselves” over a long period of time, as they are actually doing jobs (a tool like WalkMe, which guides new and existing employees to successfully complete tasks as they work, is a good example of a useful tool that can reduce employee training costs and increase worker productivity).
Furthermore, one of the trends that Schwartz mentions is of – in a mobile driven world – people are constantly checking emails and doing work outside of the office, and beyond traditional working hours (either by their own choice or because their bosses expect it of them). Using technology – in the training world through mLearning & eLearning – is definitely not a bad thing, and used it the right way can be fantastic. But workers need to be given some freedom, both in and out of the office, in order to fully realize their potential.
So in short – don’t make the chain too tight around ourselves and our employees – sometimes, LESS IS MORE.