Experiential Training: A New Paradigm for Employee Engagement
If your approach to training events is just the nuts and bolts of teaching employees, then you’re blowing a golden opportunity. Employee events, for training or otherwise, should always strive for more.
3 min read.
By Jon Callard, Creative Strategist, with cover art by Gerson Granados.
YOU’RE DOING IT WRONG
If your approach to training events is just the nuts and bolts of teaching employees, then you’re blowing a golden opportunity. Employee events, for training or otherwise, should always strive for more. This is your chance to inspire loyalty, foster career development, improve engagement, and reduce attrition. But in order to accomplish any of these things, you need to provide an experience that is meaningful and memorable.
MAKE IT MEANINGFUL
If you’re taking employees away from their jobs in order to do training, you better make it worth their while - especially for industries like automotive sales, where employees’ income depends on being in the showroom selling. Your first objective is to justify that the training event is worth their time. What are they learning at the event that they can’t learn from a manual or a video?
Furthermore, if you have your employees’ attention diverted away from their work, you should take advantage of that opportunity and really engage with them. Set time to listen to their concerns, share the big-picture plans and long-term vision of your company. Show them what their future at the company can look like if they work hard and perform well.
MAKE IT MEMORABLE
Great training is worthless if it is not remembered and retained. If you do a good job of making it a meaningful experience then you’re ahead of the game in making it memorable.
Edgar Dale’s learning pyramid is widely-cited but only loosely based on actual science (Dale himself admitted the percentages were purely arbitrary). However, our personal experience and common sense verify that we learn and retain better with some activities over others. Namely, unique experiences are long remembered while routine activities are quickly forgotten.
Data source: National Teaching Laboratories.
If you want an experience to be remembered, make it emotional. Not the dramatic kind of emotion, mind you, but affecting in ways that the normal day-to-day is not. An experience that is surprising, exciting, joyful, or even scary (i.e. outside of comfort zone) will be long remembered. Things learned during this emotional experience will be retained better than anything read, heard, seen, or demonstrated.
IT’S NOT JUST ABOUT LEARNING
A training event is an investment in your whole company - not just a requisite expense for on-boarding or a product launch. If done right, the results of a training event will be greater than just the required learning. Employees will form bonds with each other, even if your activities are not designed for team building. Employees will return to work more energized, engaged, motivated, and loyal.
CASE [STUDY] IN POINT
When MINI launched their all-new Countryman they could have gone with the traditional automotive training template: facilitator-led modules teaching product features; PowerPoints; lectures; and maybe some customer/salesperson role-playing. However, they opted to deliver this crucial training in the form of an incredible experience, eschewing the classroom and opting for the open road. Training on driving dynamics while zooming down mountain switchbacks. Showing AWD capabilities by maneuvering through knee-deep mud. And busting hybrid-vehicle myths by racing their plug-in hybrid against a Mercedes-Benz GLA.
The result? MINI dealers had the time of their lives, learned more about the vehicle than they ever could have in a classroom or online, and returned to their dealership with a renewed passion and faith in their brand. Best of all, because of the training experience, they were able to convey genuine emotion and passion for the Countryman to their customers - closing sales while invoking the authenticity of MINI brand.