September 1st, 2016

Training Millennials – Personalizing the Learning Library

training millennials

Today’s workplace is now composed of a majority of Millennials, along with Gen Xers, baby boomers, and traditionalists. Training millennials presents a challenge for sales organizations, and especially the Learning & Development group, because there are a mix of generations and learning styles to address.

To be most effective, training programs need to meet employees where they are in terms of learning styles and preferences. This means stepping back and rethinking ways to personalize and address how different employees learn.

Training Millennials Requires a Mix of Training Tools

It’s not that instructor-led training is wrong or going away, because it still has great value. The point is to personalize the learning journey on behalf of the individuals who are taking it, adapting to the cognitive style of learning that’s based on the generation. When training millennials, delivery of instructor-led training should be in smaller increments, complemented with more social collaboration. Videos should be added to the mix along with online modules that include an element of gaming to make learning more interesting.

For training across generations, include a menu of options to supplement instructor-led training, so participants can pick and choose what works best for them. The questions for Learning & Development to consider are these:

  • How does this group of employees learn best?
  • How can we, as an organization, deliver the type of training that enables all of our diverse groups of learners to get to where they need to be from a competency perspective?
  • How can we make it fun and engaging and relevant?
  • How can we make employees feel excited about learning and that they have a purpose here?
  • Once we deliver the training, how do we reinforce the material?

These are the same questions many of our clients pose to us at Richardson, because they know we maintain a pulse on the marketplace. They know the psychology of a good training company involves understanding the dynamics of learning and learners, so they come to Richardson to help them look at training in a different way. And they want to establish metrics and verifiable outcomes so they know what they’re doing is working. In short, they want to measure the right things to assess their return on investment in training.

With our 37 years in the niche of sales training, working with Fortune 1000 companies, Richardson taps into a breadth of knowledge to keep our clients in sync with the market: both where it is today, and where it is going. We have a clear understanding of adult learning based on the psychology and methodology involved in effective learning. And we know that even in a multigenerational workforce, certain considerations consistently apply and are most effective as organizations develop their sellers:

  • Training must be aligned with business goals, processes, and desired capabilities. It must be relevant within business contexts to be credible to the learner.
  • Development happens when learners have awareness and embrace the value of engaging. They need to understand concepts and relationships, to try over and over to get things right, and to remember lessons learned.
  • Knowledge must be applied and results experienced for learning to be sustained. Results are amplified when learners are paired with coaches who continue to refine skills on the job.
  • Development is best supported when measurement informs and motivates learning, supports, coaching, and demonstrates business outcomes.

Training Designed to Meet All Types of Learner Needs

Effective training can never be about throwing up PowerPoint presentations and hoping people learn. It has to incorporate learning theory based on the nuances and learning preferences of different generations. It’s not about adapting completely to the wants and needs for training millennials, but understanding the issues and impact on learning of a multi-generational workforce. The secret is to view training not as an event, but a journey designed to meet learners where they are so that all can achieve the best business outcomes.

consultative selling & training millennials

About The Author: Jacqui Higgins

Jacqui Higgins is the Regional Vice President of Sales for Richardson in the Washington D.C. Metro area.

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Jacqui Higgins

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