How to Design Employee Training with a Leadership Brain

Training employees is time-consuming, costs money, and is the best investment that your company can ever make. Training your novices as well as your veterans pays off in the end — but only if you know how to manage training so that the new information sticks in their minds.

Set up training based on how the brain learns and remembers. Your training can be more than a training; it can be a learning experience that is remembered on both an intellectual level and an emotional level.

A good training session answers these three questions:

  • Where are you now? Getting a sense of participants’ background knowledge enables the training to find a starting point that includes everyone.

  • Where are you going? Before embarking on training, determine exactly where you want it to take your employees. For example, a recent sales training at an insurance company focused on two goals, one for each day of the training. Day one’s goal was finding new prospects. Day two’s target goal was to sharpen communication skills to close the sale.

  • How can you get there? Design strategies for reaching different types of learners, addressing multiple intelligences, and enabling participants to store information in various areas of the brain.

These questions give you a roadmap for your training. The trainer who leads your sessions needs to create this map with you and others in your organization who already have reached these targets.

Even if you answer these questions perfectly, a training won’t get you far unless you help participants find their individual WIIFMs. (WIIFM is an abbreviation for “what’s in it for me?” — also known as the number-one question in each trainee’s mind.) Making that connection from their jobs to their training makes a difference in how attentive they are and how much they remember. Meet with employees before the training to find and emphasize that connection.

What makes a highly motivated trainee? Trainees must either feel the need to learn at the training, or they must want to learn.

Situations that might induce a need for your trainees include

  • Earning a new position

  • Keeping their current position

  • Competing with others on their team

  • Competing with other businesses

Situations that might induce a desire to learn for your trainees might include

  • Wanting to please you

  • Wanting more recognition

  • A desire to beat the competition

  • Wanting to achieve a goal

  • Wanting to meet others’ expectations

  • Wanting to be respected for their knowledge

Speak to each employee individually about the training. Explain the importance of the training to you, to the future of the company, and to the employee. Reach each one on an emotional level. Share your excitement! Share your passion! If the training group is too big for you to talk with each person, talk with teams or whatever combination of people makes sense.

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