Imagine this scenario: You sent your team to a classroom training session for the next three hours to learn how to better use an application. This application is important, and you’re fed up with hearing people complain that they don’t really know how to use it. It’s crucial that they retain the training because knowing the technology is part of their job. Now, you’re paying for training, so you hope your team gets what they need and works it into their daily routine so they can be more productive. Off they go, and you await a lot of great feedback and results.
What happens next is typical, so don’t feel bad if you can empathize: the training pays off for some, but not everyone. That’s expected. People leave classroom training sessions with the knowledge, skills and abilities fresh in their minds, but as soon as they return to their daily work life, it escapes them. They try and recover it from the three-ring binder full of notes they took during the event, but eventually, it lands on the shelf to be forgotten. Where’s the return?
The concept of organizations, teams or even individuals sitting in a classroom all day, either on-site or in some cold computer lab, has turned some people sour on the notion that investing in training, or rather investing in their people to be trained, bears fruit. The reality is, people are the single largest expense in any organization. The best investment organizations could make would be to improve their staff’s ability to do their jobs. Whether training bears fruit has everything to do with knowledge retention, which leads to return on investment (ROI). But what type of training provides the largest ROI?
Training de jour
As a consultant, I supported the Army for years and saw so many different types of training that even the teams were confused by the myriad of terms and approaches. A new type of training seemed to pop-up every season, like a weed. New equipment training, familiarization training, just-in-time training, over-the-shoulder training, train-the-trainer training, distributed learning training, institutional training—the list goes on and on, making it seem impossible to choose the most effective training for the task at hand. One of the latest trends appears to be self-paced learning, evidenced by LinkedIn’s purchase of Lynda.com to propel their service offering. This year, I see roving training entering the mix.
I’ll have to admit, this one has me intrigued.
Roving training allows trainees to identify the learning objective and apply the new skill in the shortest amount of time. But how?
Instead of going to a classroom or joining a mass of people with different training objectives and learning styles, roving training means an expert comes to your employee’s desk to address their specific training objective. These include questions like, “how do I create reports using pivot tables?” or “how can I analyze trends based on the info in this database?” Discussions happen that may surprise you.
This experience has given birth to a unique type of training offered by instructors. Some call it office hours training or booster training. Our partners call it roving training. I like to think of it as fine-tune training.
With fine-tune training, instructors are there only for as long as the employee needs them, which is usually no longer than it takes for coffee to go cold. Because staff have described what they need help with in advance, either by completing a simple form or emailing the instructor, the learning objectives are met immediately. A simple walk-through and documented steps to repeat it, plus a way to ask for support later, and they’re on their way. It’s training—concierge-style.
Compare fine-tune training to the time it takes employees to coordinate their schedule for a training, attend a class, extract exactly what they learned, relate it to their specific task, remember it and apply it when they return to their desk, and you’re talking hours or days saved. Moreover, there’s no question whether the learning objective was met. That was the only effort exerted by the staff—no rearranging of the calendar, no travel or expense receipts, no fumbling through workbooks and notes.
We live in a world that addresses the “what saves me time” or “I want it personalized” mentality, and technology training is finally serving it up. If you want to know what your staff needs help with, ask your training partner to conduct an initial training assessment. This will expose your silent sufferers and identify areas of need that will help tailor a training approach that works for you and your team—not the other way around.