I recently reviewed an early draft of a colleague’s training activity that required a new group of employees who had never seen or worked with it before to introduce a new corporate framework that employees must use in their work. The first half of the training consisted of a talk presenting and explaining the concept, and the interactive activity consisted of a sticky note brainstorming session where the groups had to see all the benefits of using this new framework in their own work – right after they first met it.
I’ve seen this training mistake several times over the years, so I’ve got it the “that’s important, tell me why it’s great“Fallacy. Let me explain the different facets of this scenario and explain what is wrong with each:
This fallacy assumes that this content is “important” without the learners having to work hard to let them see for themselves what is really good or useful. The truth is that management is asking them to use this new framework actually good or not is glossed over. The bosses want it to be taught, so it is taught. Our poor trainer is enabled to forcibly provide information to an ignorant population without an intrinsic desire to provide information.
The fallacy also enables learners to instantly find reasons why this new framework is the best idea ever and such an improvement over everything we did yesterday. It can lead to an exercise in “[yes-man syndrome](It happens in the brain of a “yes man”) ”while the learners willingly prepare a word salad that seems to get the job done. They may appear to be participating successfully, but this “teacher-compliant behavior” is not a good indicator that learners are actually remembering the new material or using it in their work.
Finally, I often see the “This is important / tell me why it’s great” lesson in training where trainers and stakeholders just haven’t explicitly defined the intended outcomes of the training. Even in a compliance-oriented training like this, you need to articulate how the learners change through the experience. What new knowledge, skills and attitudes will the learners acquire? What is the impact of this training on a specific business problem, and how can we monitor and measure the changes as they occur? If you take the time and effort to reconsider this step, you will develop a more engaging and effective trianing.
Unequal performance dynamics
As educators, we need to be sensitive to the implicit power dynamic when teaching learners. In this scenario, the new framework is imposed on employees by their more powerful superiors, without considering the voice or choice of employees on the matter. If we are not careful and self-critical, we teachers can become mere control instruments enforcing power inequalities in the organizations in which we work. At best, however, in situations like this we can advocate for the dignity, self-determination and self-determination of learners. In this case, we need to answer the question “How will this new information really improve learners’ lives?”
To help my colleague, I asked questions about the audience and the new framework to get a deeper understanding of how it could actually improve their lives. What role do these employees play? What are your main focuses in everyday work? What challenges do you regularly face? And which features of the new framework can really improve the way you work? If they can get out of training with two or three new tricks that will help them better serve their customers, do we consider that a “win”?
I learned that the framework is primarily intended for salespeople, but the audience for this training is marketingpeople. The goal of the training is to help marketers better understand how the salespeople are selling so that the two groups can better align their strategy. All of this leads to the company-wide goal of working like a company, overcoming silos and showing our customers a unified face.
The marketing reps come with lived experience from times when they weren’t really focused on sales, so we decided to Step 1 The brainstorming session “Describe the challenges you face when aligning with sales”. In this step, they generate a number of real-world problems that they have experienced themselves.
step 2 refers them to the new information, the Sales Framework, to view them in the light of these identified challenges. What features of the Sales Framework can be used to address each alignment challenge? In this phase, “Challenge” stickies are compared with newly created “Framework Solutions” stickies, which clearly illustrate how the framework solves real problems.
step 3 then becomes a metacognitive review where learners rephrase / present / share their permanent insights on how they will use the new framework to solve problems in the future.
Extrinsic to intrinsic motivation
Through this process we have shifted the learner’s motivation to learn this material from extrinsic Too intrinsic (to please supervisors or avoid anger) (developing tools to overcome each learner’s own work frustrations). Even if the unequal balance of power between management and employees persists – the framework will be introduced one way or another – our training courses will help you discover how the framework can create real added value for your work.
More effort, more rewards
As you can see, this approach forces us to ask hard questions about the real value of training. Sometimes it enables us to question the authority of powerful people in our organizations and challenge them to better handle the time and attention of employees. This has resulted in some raised eyebrows and tense meetings, but those involved feel that these are questions worth asking and that I am right to ask them.
Often times, we need to study the content ourselves deeply enough to see the real connections we expect from learners. If at the beginning we can’t see how the new framework will pay off for these learners, then it is our job to keep learning and asking questions until we experience the change we want to make in the learners.
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