Saturday, 14 February 2009

Put yourself in their shoes

I have written a number of times on this blog about how to design high quality learning interventions. For me it always starts with investing time and effort in defining what outcomes you want for the learners. These are outcomes can be divided into:
  • Attitude: what mind set do you want people to have
  • Knowledge: what do you want people to know
  • Skills: what do you want people to be able to do
A simpler way of remember this could be 'think, know, do'.

Getting this piece right will drive the whole design and delivery of the learning intervention. It will also make it much easier for you to evaluate whether you have been successful because you have been very specific about the outcomes you want to achieve.

However, whilst defining clear outcomes will help you on the route to success, there is one other factor that you must consider..........know your audience. The way that you can achieve these outcomes will be very different depending upon the audience. Can you imagine wanting to achieve the same set of outcomes with a group of pensioners compared to a group of school kids - you would approach things very differently.

A colleague of mine, Emily recently attended a training course and kept a learning log through the week. It actually provides quite an insight into the world of the learner - something that all learning professional need to be able to do. Here are some extracts:

"The day started with a long journey to Swindon in the rain. This reminded me how important location is for events, as despite my enthusiasm and excitement about finally being on the course, I felt slow to engage. I can only assume that other shared this feeling, as the day got off to a slow start with low energy in the room".

That's already a fantastic insight into the world of the learner. As learning professionals it is so important to consider factors such as location etc. The first hours on a course will set the tone for the week and you can be easily get this wrong.

"Day 4 - highlight of the week by a clear mile. Thursday was a full day of simulation involving actors. What an experience - this was a real life case study involving actors who are playing out your worst nightmares. The real insight this gave me was how powerful nerves can be in affecting your most behaviours around building rapport and engaging with people"

Another valuable insight into how the learning intervention had an impact on what the learner was thinking (remember those attitude outcomes..).

"The trainers on this day acted as mentors for each of the teams - in the true sense of the word, rather than just supporting the administration of the process. This added even further depth to the practical experience..."

Again, a great insight into how the trainer can act in different ways to help coach the learner through the experience - helping them achieve those outcomes.

Thanks so much Emily!

So if you are currently embarking on the design of a new training course, or even a presentation remember:
  • Think about the outcomes
  • Know your audience
If you remember these things then I am sure you will achieve great results!


Training Time said...

Great advice! Putting yourself in someone else's shoes will usually give you a clearer perspective of the situation, especially when it comes to training. When trainers understand where there trainees are coming from and how they're approaching a training session, it will work wonders for trainee engagement and learning retention.

As a trainer, you should always examine your program from the trainee's point of view. I promise your trainees will thank you.

Chris Morgan said...

Well said!!

Dan McCarthy said...

Chris –

Great post!
Another way to develop a healthy empathy for what our participants have to endure is to attend an occasional training program ourselves. It’s funny how sometimes some of our favorite techniques can seem irritating when we actually have to do them ourselves (i.e., hours of pre-work).

Amy Sutton said...

Well written post, thanks. I find too, especially for trainings I am doing in-house, it helps to talk to some of the recipients in advance... do a little reconnaisance, so to speak.

Thanks for your helpful information!