The Learning Management Process – Part II. Long Term Learning.

Reinforcing High Performing Behaviours (Long Term Learning)

When we work with teams to train and brief them in the right way we begin to enhance both the skill and the will of that team member to perform their role. Once we have delivered the initial training and learning, we need to be mindful of what it means to really develop an individual.

Training is all about imparting learning, when we teach a new skill or request a specific new behaviour we are asking our team or colleagues to develop new behaviours.  These behaviours will form a set of new habits that will lead to the success of the team.  With this in mind we need to think carefully about the requirements of that learning.  Learning is a process. It is a set of stages that over time form a long term memory in the individual.  We cannot learn to drive a car in a day. We need to go through a process that embeds that learning into our long term consciousness.   We need to layer on new techniques and skills and practice those repeatedly until we are competent to fully control the vehicle.

When you are working with your teams to ensure that they deliver their work and activities in such a way that they perform effectively for you, you need therefore to work with them to repeat and reinforce the learning in such a way that they are able to consciously implement what you have taught them.   The more complex the task or technique the more reinforcement needs to be delivered.

Let’s take the example of some teaching that has been delivered to a sales team on asking more effective questions of their clients and prospects.  In order to ensure that the team use the techniques in their day to day business activities we need to use reinforcement to aid the learning.

This repetition and reinforcement should consider two key elements:

  1. Communication styles
  2. Environment

Communication Styles:

We all learn in different ways and prefer to take in information in different ways.  It is important that we consider this fact when we plan how to reinforce our messages.

STYLE  COMMENTS  EXAMPLES
 Written  Communications that we write can take the form of leaflets, emails, handouts and are perfect for those people who prefer to engage with information in its written form. They learn best through reading and absorbing information. Send a summary email following the training. Create a handout or leaflet that summarising the learning that you have delivered. Ask the team to write a summary of what they have learned to share with you as a take away from the training session.
 Verbal  Many learners, particularly very people focused individuals learn best through verbal presentation or discussion. They will often find digesting written materials challenging and will enjoy listening to the spoken word.  Ask members of the team to share their successes in implementing the learning in a group environment. Create a narration of key points from the training that the team can listen to in their own time (Slideshare for example) Do role play or work based scenarios the allow the techniques to be practiced.
 Visual  Pictures, graphics and visual elements are very powerful way of reinforcing information. Visual learners find that connecting information with images cements this in their heads more effectively. Create whiteboards around the office with graphics and images of the training content. Put cue cards on peoples PCs to remind them to utilise techniques. Create slide summaries of the learning for them to refer back to.

Environment:

The setting for learning is also key. For some people a lecture based environment works well and they enjoying attending presentations, for others information is more likely to be absorbed in a more interactive environment.

SETTING COMMENTS EXAMPLES
Lecture Lecture based learners enjoy the presentation or academic style of learning and will enjoy verbal based presentations. Deliver content in short teaching sessions with expert presenters. Provide video or slide share information for the learner to access.
Individual An individual learner enjoys desk based research and reading materials. They will happily work quietly through learning materials in a private environment. Provide online resources for your team to access. Ask team members to prepare revision notes or material independently. Suggest that the team all work on some examples and email them to their peers for peer to peer learning.
Partner Partner learners enjoy the intimacy of one to one working and love others to bounce ideas off. They usually thrive with challenge and critique. Create partner based tag teaming in which colleagues observe each other’s sales activities and give feedback. Devise partner based role play sessions around the content. Ask the team to create revision quizzes around the content that they run in pairs.
Group Group learners like large interactive environments to work in. They will typically thrive on shared ideas and will like the input of their peers. Run topic quizzes in team meetings. Create discussion forums in meetings to discuss the successes and challenges of implementing the learning. Create a group role play exercise where people can chip in their ideas. Talk through case studies and challenges and ask for group contribution to the learning.

The job of a great manager is to ensure that all learnings and briefings are fully supported by a reinforcement plan that covers all learning styles and environments.

Whenever you are giving a new brief or piece of training to your team consider the ways in which you can repeat and reinforce your message that will be diverse and engaging for your team.

Try using this model after training your teams, we’d love to hear how effective you find it.

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