With the changing way of work and demand for new skill sets, L&D, HR and business leaders are relooking at their learning methodologies. While learning continues to remain a critical agenda for businesses the way it is delivered has changed over the years. Moving beyond the textbooks and blackboard learning, L&D practitioners had to work on making their learning more engaging. The demand for an engaging learning module was identified as more and more millennials with less attention span started entering the workforce. Therefore, techniques like case studies, group discussions and simulations gained popularity and replaced the PPT based learning.
While forms like case studies and group discussions are interactive and interesting, they are in themselves not sufficient to seize the interest of the learner. The element that is often added or can be added to make these traditional modes of learning more attractive and impactful is ‘Experiential Learning.’
Coined by David Kolb in 1984, Experiential learning is the process of learning through experience and is more specifically defined as "learning through reflection on doing." An element of experience when added to these modes makes learning more engaging for the learners. The learners, in this case, become more active because they themselves are involved in the activities.
Michelle Cummings, Co-Founder and Chief Creative Officer, Personify Leadership shares from her experience, how the element of play brings out true personalities of individuals while learning. She says, “The ancient philosopher Plato was once quoted saying I can learn more about a person in one hour of play than a lifetime of conversation. And we totally believe that to be true, the intentions and emotions they have hidden internally reflect through their reactions, actions and responses.”
The 70-20-10 model further reiterates the statement. As per the theory, people retain 10 percent of what they hear, 20 percent of what they see and 70 percent of what they do. Further, a persona can retain 90 percent of what they teach.
Michelle shares that one of the greatest ways of reinforcing anything that you have learned is, teaching it your peers or subordinates. Knowledge, when shared, solidifies and multiplies. She says, “If you go somewhere and learn something new and then come back to the workplace and teach the same to your peers you will retain even more.”
Michelle also shared some strategies that both learners and L&D practitioners can take note of and leverage for enhanced retention.
Here are 4 reinforcement tools that L&D practitioners and even learners themselves can utilize to increase retention:
Ongoing and follow up coaching
What happens after learners finish a learning module? After days, weeks or months of training when they go back to work and get busy in their day to day activities how do they ensure that they are applying those learnings in their work. To ensure that the momentum of learning that they have gone through in that time period continues, ongoing follow up in initial days is necessary.
One of the ways in which it can be done is that the learner identifies a skill he/she needs to work the most on. Then each learner gets assigned a check in buddy. In this case, both of them must have gone through training and are helping each other out by keeping a check on one another. This has to run for at least 30, 60 or 90 days. The check-in buddy can be someone at the office or someone who lives nearby. This practice helps the learner be accountable to someone else, making him/her more responsible, hence increasing the probability of going through this phase successfully.
The second in which follow up can be done is through feedback forms and check in with managers to access if the learner has been able to implement the learning or not. It will be a combination of question and answers where both the learner and the manager can reflect on the training and its aftermath.
Create feedback loops
Once the learners get back into the real world they can select one individual they trust to provide them with feedback. For instance, a leader who recently went through a training on being a better listener can declare that to his team and ask them to point it out to him when he is observed as not being a good listener. Also, he can give them small appreciation cards, which they can present to him whenever he displays a positive behavior. This will motivate the learner to further reinforce the learning and improve his/her weak area.
Reminders and Alerts are some of the ways to keep a tap on the takeaways you as a learner had from the learning session. Organizations can also leverage many available interactive chatbots to engage the learners even after the learning module is over. It can remind them to inculcate the lessons they have learned in their everyday work. These messages when suddenly pops on your laptop's or mobile’s screen become like the message from the universe and breaks you out of your procrastination.
Another use of technology can be made by leveraging the amount of available content on the web. Learners can watch, read or listen to small sessions or lectures on platforms, for instance on TedEx and revise what they had learned before.
Anchor tools are metaphors or symbols you can look at every day and anchor back yourself to the old lessons you have taken. Majorly successful to reinforce behavioral competencies anchor tools are an interesting way to remind individuals of what they want to become and what they would rather not be.
At the end of the leadership coaching, each leader can choose a visual symbol to take back with them. For instance, a figure of Mind is given to someone who wants to work on being emotional resilient. Similarly, someone who feels that directing and delegation is their weak area, they are given a figure of Hand. Leaders can then keep these figures with themselves so that when in a work scenario they are not following what they have learned they are immediately reminded of it as soon as they look at them. Hence, these tools work as visual reminders and anchor back the learners to their previous lessons.
(The above article is based on the webinar, “Five Methods of Learning to Engage the Adult Learner,” presented by People Matters in association with C2COD. The speaker of the webinar was Michelle Cummings, Co-Founder of Personify Leadership.)
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