With a long-standing background in systems training, I often get asked “how can we get it right” for go-live systems training. The challenge I face is that to “get it right” you have to balance the budget with the needs of your most valuable asset - the system users. You can’t just have a “set it and forget it” mentality, often with only a single days’ training allocated where new processes are expected to be learned, understood, and put into practice.
The German psychologist Herman Ebbinghaus described the “forgetting curve” in the 1890s (it has been confirmed by researchers many times, most recently in 2013; 2015; 2017, and 2021) and it is a fascinating description of the decrease in the ability of the brain to retain memory over time, startlingly, the curve shows the steepest memory decline, a 70% loss, happens in the first 24 hours. And yet what do we do? What have we always done? We run our training sessions days if not weeks ahead of new systems being implemented. It’s little wonder that change management is so difficult and a high volume of voluntary employee turnover is recognised as occurring at times of significant business change, especially systems overhauls. According to a 2019 LinkedIn survey, 94% of employees would stay at a company longer if it invested in helping them learn
But back to “how can we get it right” whilst also balancing the budget. It’s not impossible and really only needs one key thing… repetition.
But repeat, repeat, repeat busts the budget right? Not necessarily.
Here is where I could spend ages delving into learning styles, of which there are 7 commonly recognised ones, yet traditional class-room based systems training caters for one (ok, maybe one and a half) of those. Physical Learners learn most by hands-on activity (the half part is for the Verbal Learners who get to listen to the instructions) so for them, class-room based training is perfect. But what of the 5 and a half other learning styles?
Repeating information doesn’t have to mean running a training course again. It should be in the form of flow charts; diagrams; mind maps and screenshots for the Visual learners. Mnemonics for the Auditory learners. Get your Social learners in to run snippet workshops for colleagues and then get the Verbal learners involved by asking them to write up the notes.
Personally, I’m closest matched to a Logical/Verbal style (my family would die laughing as the Logical style is described as having a mathematical brain and if you want to paralyse me with confusion ask me any mental arithmetic, especially the times tables) but it does mean that I need to understand the ‘why’ of doing something and then just a few clear bullet points to follow. I also find value in repeating the same thing over and over – something I suspect those of you who have attended my training sessions will have noticed!
If you don’t already have a Teams/Zoom/Skype/Slack chat channel dedicated to ‘Did you know’ set one up now. Start with a “tip of the week” showcasing something simple and eventually you’ll find others will join in.
If you haven’t already determined what learning styles you and your colleagues have, go and find out. There are many places you can find this information, but, in the spirit of catering for all learning styles, here’s a good link: https://www.lifehack.org/572775/find-your-own-learning-style-make-learning-more-easy-and-effective
If you haven’t reviewed your training guides in the last 6 months, go do it. Consider how you can have multiple formats of the same content. I need a “you’re doing this so that you can get that” written headline. Someone else would want exactly the same thing as a flow chart.
Significantly work with your combined strength by giving each of these tasks to the person with the learning style that fits it best.
Training, change & communication are crucial and MUST be the backbone of what you do. You’ll never “get it right” if you don’t recognise that it’s a real commitment, an ongoing process, and absolutely must be delivered with the outcome in mind… reducing the forgetting curve.