Effective training goes beyond mandatory sessions; it requires a mission employees can embrace. For genuine learning, relate concepts to personal experiences, making it relevant. Behavioural models should resonate personally, connecting with employees’ innate abilities. Aligning training with real-life contexts fosters genuine buy-in and consistently improved performance.
Most employed people have experienced mandatory training concerning their company, as well as the products or services offered. Training in any organisation is a logical necessity. After all, everyone in the business needs to be on the same page, and work together towards achieving the same objectives.
The question arises: How can businesses ensure that mandatory training translates into genuine, impactful learning experiences for employees? The answer lies in moving beyond theoretical concepts and creating a connection to real-life situations. It’s not enough for employees to mechanically undergo training; they must find a personal stake in it. By weaving a mission into the training, relating concepts to personal experiences, and making behavioral models resonate on a personal level, businesses can foster authentic buy-in. This approach not only captures attention but also transforms theoretical knowledge into practical skills, ensuring employees deliver consistent, high-quality service based on genuine understanding.
Let’s look at customer service training as an example. Most of us know that excellent customer service is a priority when trying to retain our client base. Yet, we often believe that putting employees through stock-standard training is enough to incite the behaviours required to make it a reality. Sadly, a theoretical understanding of customer service behaviour isn’t enough.
The chances are that, when serving a customer, most employees are curving the corners of their lips into a smile – but their eyes reveal that they would rather be doing something else. Or, they have become so good at emulating ‘good customer service’ that their actions have become quite robotic.
Thus illustrating how the customer service training merely provided the theory of good customer service behaviour, but not much more.
It’s important for employees to buy into something more than ‘good customer service’ or ‘growing the business’. So, we must include a mission in the training – something bigger than the employees or business. Something that employees can buy into: a cause.
It is often said that it is the employees that make a business, but this is often forgotten when it comes to learning. When creating efficient learning, taking a learner-centric approach is essential! You have to be able to give the learner an answer when they ask: “How does this relate to me? Why do I have to know this stuff?”.
Getting personal in the learning approach is a great way to do this. In sticking with the customer service example, you may want the learner to remember that they are also consumers. They have also experienced excellent service, and as a result wanted to sing the praises of good customer service employees.
And likewise, they have also wanted to repeatedly bang their head against the nearest wall, just to dull the absolute frustration of having to deal with someone who is not customer-focused. Linking the employee’s personal experience to what they are learning, can go far towards making real learning happen.
Customer facing employees are sometimes asked to display ‘behavioural models’, which are a set of very specific behaviours that are put forward by the company. These models are usually taught to employees in the form of visual diagrams which show the many interlinking behavioural concepts. For example, ‘positive body-language’ in the form of making eye-contact, and leaning forward when listening to the customer.
These behavioural models are often overwhelming and impersonal. There is another way to make a behavioural model relevant to the learners. You can make them aware that, whenever they are advising a family member or friend, they are naturally applying customer service behaviour models without even realising it.
For instance, if your mother asked you for advice on the best cellular deal, you would naturally go through all of the options and help her choose an option with the best value for money, that is perfectly suited to her needs.
You would display concern for, and an interest in, her needs. You would ask probing questions to get to the core need. You also would have patience and would display active listening to get to the answers you need to help her choose the best possible option.
Employees learn better when the learning can be framed in the right context.
Once the learning material evolves to more than just theory, from a business point of view, you will hold a learner’s attention better, and are in a better position to create real buy-in.
The next time that the employee has a customer interaction, they may recall the learning and recognise themselves in the customer.
They may then be more inspired to offer the same quality of service that they would expect. And they may also realise that displaying good, customer service behaviour actually comes naturally to them.