Ever wondered why management training sometimes doesn’t have the impact you wanted?

Have you ever attended a management training course and didn’t take anything away from it?

Perhaps some of the answers can be found in psychology research that has tried to explain how people learn–how we come to know what we know, and how we change our knowledge and behavior in response to experience. Decades of psychological research have established what good school teachers already know about the most effective ways to reach their students and help them understand new concepts and ideas.  These simple principles which are outlined below are invaluable to trainers and purchasers of management training programs alike.

  1. Make it relevant.  We remember things better when they matter to us, and we are more likely to pay attention to a speaker or a topic when we can apply it to our own lives. When conducting management training sessions, taking active steps to make abstract concepts personally relevant is critical.
  2. Make sure the learning can be used immediately. We forget things that we don’t regularly practice.  Have you ever been on an IT training course but then forgotten how to use the system or program because the course was 6 months ago?
  3. Keep the learning interactive. This sounds simple, but sometimes trainers are unaware of how much they “talk at” rather than “talk with” their participants.  Ask questions, make it participative, and think of creative ways of involving the participants through exercises and discussions.
  4. Limit the use of DVD/Videos.  Few things are more passive than watching television. Of course, there are excellent resources available in this medium, many of which will be very helpful. It is just important to make sure this is not the primary means of communication. For example, think about using brief clips to illustrate points, or break up a training session with humour.
  5. Review. Spend the first five minutes of every new training session reviewing what occurred in the previous one. This technique can help tie important themes together and promote integration of the training program as a whole.
  6. Be careful after lunch. Try not to talk right after a meal, particularly lunch. It is very difficult to learn when your body is telling you it is time for a nap. Better to have the participants do something active.
  7. Space out management training sessions.  Very little is learned by cramming things in. Make sure that after a training session the participants have an appropriate amount of time to put into practice what they have learned before embarking on the next piece of learning.
  8. Encourage participants to read around the subject.  Provide additional reading materials, books, articles internet sites etc to enable the participants to further their development.

If you are a trainer, challenge yourself  – how many of these things do you do?  If you buy management training, check with your provider before they start – how many of these criteria do they meet?  If they don’t meet them find one that does!