A common scenario relating to performance proficiency : John just completed 3 days of training on using Salesforce in the enterprise software company he started working at a week ago.
John’s manager Amanda expects him to hit the ground running and begin showing results quickly, but is also aware of the well-quoted statistic that on average, people remember only 20% of what they learned during training sessions.
Furthermore, even if John absorbed 50% of the information, he’s still liable to make a series of mistakes, and repeatedly ask for assistance, in the early period following the completion of the training sessions.
Amanda is therefore cautious about John’s initial progress, and is looking forward to the day when he will be fully comfortable and familiar to operating Salesforce effectively.
One of the biggest challenges of employee development is mending the gap between the acquired knowledge during the training process and the level when independence and efficiency are reached.
Although employees learn a lot during training, once the initial process ends, much of the knowledge is lost and full competence is still far from achieved.
It’s simply the way the human mind learns new materials.
There is a natural tendency to learn by repetition and practice, following the initial stage of discovery and observation.
Whether it’s a child learning to ride a bicycle or an adult learning to operate a particular enterprise software, training takes time. The saying is of course that “practice makes perfect,” not “hearing makes perfect”.
In order to bridge the gap between the completion of training and employee proficiency, there are a few key questions which need to be asked.
How do we ensure that employees properly apply what they have learned during training sessions?
The answer to this is that learning differs from individual to individual, as each person absorbs and retains knowledge in different ways. One must recognize the diversity of learning styles, including those who learn by experimentation, observation, inquiry or patterning.
It’s not about choosing one learning style over another – all can be considered when designing your training.
That being said, learning can be personalized, within reason, to create a much more engaged and proficient workforce.
Trainers must avoid at all costs imposing their own learning style and focus on the most varied teaching styles possible: from movies, games and examples to analogies, case studies, presentations, open discussions, teamwork and experiential exercises.
In addition to embracing the diversity of learning styles, the challenge of getting employees to apply what they learn also brings us to the importance of relevance in training.
Continuing with the idea that learning can be personalized, I would stress that employee training strategies should be focused out of the theoretical, and into the direct actions that workers will need to perform in their everyday tasks. When the link between training and task performance is crystal clear, it’s easier to apply what you have just learned.
How do we accelerate the process between training and full performance proficiency ?
1. Properly Evaluate the Training
The first thing that executives have to do after the initial training period is to evaluate its results, at least on an initial level. In this regard it’s important to have a look back at the original training objectives.
These objectives serve 2 main purposes. The first of them is to define exactly what knowledge has been transferred to the employees throughout the training. The second is the ability to answer how this has been achieved, if the training session has been successful.
If the training session has been developed properly, than both these objectives will be specific and measurable, and thus able to tell employers exactly what their workers have to do, pay more attention to, or stop doing altogether.
2. Get Workers to Apply Knowledge Quickly
It’s essential for executives to not waste too much time in getting employees to apply the knowledge gained once the training ends. Such approach has few specific benefits.
First of all, it enforces the message that employees learned something practical and not just general or “good to know” information. Secondly, it aids managers in assessing the training’s results fast.
And finally, it allows the learners to get a real grip of the information they learned throughout the preparation sessions. There’s no reason to let time pass by, as any gaps should be filled in as quick as possible.
3. Get Learners’ Feedback
A relatively easy way in which employers can understand what needs to be done to improve things around is to get employees’ feedback. This can be done directly and on an individual basis, both after the training has ended as well as at regular intervals of time.
You can ask them in person how useful they believe the training session was and which are the key areas (if any) where they still need help. Alternatively, you can choose to send surveys in which to ask learners’ about their satisfaction degree regarding the courses.
4. Monitor Their Skills Closely
Aside from the initial training success assessment that you get from the employee feedback, it’s very important to monitor their skills closely throughout the immediate time period.
Most of the times, results fail to show up immediately, so it’s better for employers to monitor their workers over a long period of time, while also taking care to bridge any gaps in their knowledge.
5. Make Use of Technology
An important aspect which needs to be repeated here is represented by the technological aids. They simply represent the easiest way to get employees on the right track, and if used properly, they can boost an organization’s performance in a very short period of time.
Managers should encourage workers to make use of social media, blogs, forums and online videos in order to perfect their skills and help each other out. Additionally, performance support technology is more diverse and available than ever, and plays an important part in the early post-training support.
What role do post-training performance support tools play in Performance Proficiency and assisting fresh employees in getting up to speed quickly?
The fastest and most cost effective way to shorten the waiting time is by far through the use of technological tools. Technology’s impact on employee learning is truly amazing –
and is transforming the established norms and methods in more ways than one.
Such tools efficiently raise the bar when it comes to knowledge adoption and help employees find their way around the office more easily with no extra effort on your side.
Managers should note that these tools are extremely effective in post-course training, as they efficiently strengthen the bond between the knowledge gained during training and the way it can be implemented in the various office activities.
Much has been written about continuous learning and its importance in strengthening employee performance. Jane Hart (industry analyst) also wrote about 5 characteristics of contemporary knowledge workers, in which she also stresses that learners learn best within the flow of work, in the moment and continuously.
For instance, an interactive online guidance technology, WalkMe being a very good example, is able to deliver learners a valuable performance aid, which gives them simple and easy to understand step-by-step instructions in the exact real-time moment they need to perform a particular task.
In the absence of such technology, learners often struggle to figure out how to manage and operate their newly familiar software, whereas technology of this kind can guide them easily and quickly toward their final objective in a much faster way.
And also give you an accurate assessment of individual workers and overall progress by providing analytics dashboards full of helpful information.
The employees can then spend less time waiting for helpdesk assistance, and can learn the most effective way possible – immediately and directly relevant to the task they are required to perform.