So Much Training, So Little Value

Training is a tricky business - shrinking budgets, increased demands, fewer staff. No wonder we often fall prey to just getting by, to getting something out quickly. But does it work? Is it effective? Does it accomplish what you meant it to?

We hate mediocre training. We want our training to matter, to make a difference, to work. So we became learners ourselves and turned to the recent findings of neuroscience to help us understand how our brains really learn and how they don't. It revolutionized our approach to training and development. And we're inviting you to join the revolution.

Overcoming The Three Myths of Training

What we discovered were three commonly held myths about training and development. Beliefs that have been allowed to inform and guide training design. Beliefs that have often led to a common perception among corporate learners that training is a chore, a necessary evil versus a benefit, an advantage.

Myth #1: If they come, they will learn

It's the errant belief that just because our audience shows up - attends our classroom training or takes our e-learning - they will actually learn what we are trying to teach them. Not true. We may believe our audience is captive during our training session, but neurologically speaking, our brains are restless, constantly scanning the horizon for what is more interesting, more important. The result? Learners whose minds are prone to wander.

We have to earn our audience's attention. We need to captivate them, not assume we hold them captive.

Overcoming Myth #1: If you engage them, they will learn

The good news about our restless brains is that there are common techniques that grab (and keep!) our attention. As training and development professionals who infuse creativity into everything we do, using these techniques transforms our clients’ training from "have to" to "want to"!


Myth #2: If they learn, they will remember

Way back in 1885, Dr. Herman Ebbinghaus discovered "The Forgetting Curve" and proved that without any sort of follow-up learning reinforcements, we forget over 50% of what we learned the day before and only retain about 20% one month later. That's a pretty significant yield loss on our training investment. So why do companies spend the vast majority of their training budget on training events, and very little on reinforcements?

Overcoming Myth #2: If you reinforce your training, they will remember

When participants learn new concepts, knowledge and skills in our training sessions, they actually begin to form new pathways in their brains - neural networks - that need to be nurtured and strengthened to keep them from fading. So, in reinforcing our training, we exercise the new, fledgling connections to increase the learner's ability to retain what they learned. And, as one might expect, there are a few common techniques that work better than others!


Myth #3: If they remember, they will do

If we look behind the smile sheets and post-tests, we'll find that very little training actually results in new behaviors that produce better business results. Why is this? Because, neurologically speaking, change is pain. Our brains actually require a lot more energy for us to learn new behaviors than to stick with what we already know. Add the usual human fears of feeling incompetent or stupid as we learn something new (commonly known in neurological circles as the "Amygdala Hijack") and we find that we humans literally resist changing our behaviors.

Overcoming Myth #3: If you coach them, they will change

It's an obvious truth if you think about it. Even professional athletes need coaches to learn how to improve a very finite set of physical and mental skills, so why wouldn't we need the same to conquer an even more complex set of concepts, inter-related facts and soft skills? But mention the word "coaching" and we each have a different picture in mind of what an effective coach actually does. As it turns out, the brain is actually much more receptive to a particular style of coaching than others.