Elizabeth Oeltjenbruns, Performance Partner
Learning and development is a mind game. After more than a century of Psychology research, the facts haven’t changed. Most people retain a mere 50% of instruction after day one, 25% after day two, and less than 10% after day three. Nothing is more frustrating to organizational development leaders than these stats.
What can be done to increase learning retention? How can organizations ensure their training investments make a difference?
We believe one of the best training practices for increasing engagement and influencing retention is to deploy the principles of adult learning that help to break down traditional patterns and behaviors. Successful training programs need to deliver:
Clear Expectations. What are the training objectives? What is expected of training participants during the session? After the session? Whether you’re a corporate trainer, a manager training a new hire, or a product owner launching a new solution, always set clear expectations for the training.
Step-by-Step Instructions: Easier said than done, right? In grade school, you might have participated in a game led by your teacher where the class followed instructions to draw a stick figure. But what if the teacher’s instructions didn’t include locating a pencil and paper, and skipped right to drawing a circle? We often make assumptions about an activity or process. For a new employee or someone learning a new skill, the steps are important.
Visual Support: This doesn’t mean creating a PowerPoint presentation with clip art and fun fonts, but rather using a variety of visual elements to create a hands-on training experience. The use of flip charts for small group activities, along with worksheets and handouts will help participants retain information.
Interactive Engagement: Learning retention increases with interactive participation. Create an open dialogue where participants can share ideas freely. Include partner or group activities to further enhance the learning. Break up your talking points with an activity that gets people out of their chairs and keeps them engaged!
Balanced Feedback: Unlike constructive criticism, balanced feedback focuses on constructive improvement. When participants share a project or deliver to the group, they should self-assess first by identifying their perspective of strengths and opportunities. This is followed by others in the classroom sharing perspectives that create a safe training environment where people always feel their ideas and thoughts matter.
Immediate and Repetitive Use: If what was learned in training is immediately used on the job, retention increases significantly; especially if the participant sees a positive and speedy impact as a result of trying something new. Participants’ managers must have clarity about the content that’s been trained and the expectation to reinforce the training with the participant.