The Missing Ingredient From Your Training: Epic Meaning
Are you one of those organised people who always writes a checklist for every task? When you’re planning a new training initiative, what does your to-do list look like? You’ll no doubt have included a training needs analysis and a list of objectives that your organisation wants to achieve. Perhaps you’ve booked venues for training sessions or considered alternative methods of delivery. While these are all important things, it’s all too easy to overlook one of the most important things of all – will the learners actually care? The sad fact is that most online learning is lacking when it comes to engaging the end-user. It’s for this reason that training programs have such disappointing results. You might think that this is just ‘the nature of the beast’, but the answer to the age-old learner-engagement problem is quite simple. It’s not about imparting knowledge, it’s about connecting your people with the beating heart of the organisation. The answer to effective training lies in a little thing I like to call Epic Meaning.
Your Company’s Vision And Values
People need to feel like their work means something. If they don’t think they’re making a difference, even in a small way, they’ll won’t feel inclined to put in the effort. Even though this is an accepted fact1, an alarmingly small number of employees (only 23%2) know or understand what their company stands for.
The vision and values of the business are the founding principles that lie at the roots of its history. Many companies will include a mention of their vision and values as part of the onboarding process and in the ‘about us’ section of their website, but that might be the last the employees ever hear of it.
For the training to have any significance, it must mean something to the learners. This is why every part has to tie directly to the core principles of the organisation.
What’s In It For Me?
Why should your employees bother with their training? If the answer is ‘so they can make the business more profitable’, you’re probably starting on the wrong foot. When it comes to engaging people with their training, they need to see how it can benefit them personally.
If they can earn a certification from taking an eLearning course, lead with that fact! Before you even outline the course, show them how this certification can benefit their career. Once they see what they can win, they’ll be more motivated to continue.
Don’t worry if you don’t have anything as tangible as a certificate. Even virtual rewards can spur people into action. Get a learning platform with gamification built in and create plenty of relevant badges and awards. Your employees will soon be falling over themselves to complete their courses!
Tell A Story
Once upon a time there was some compliance eLearning with 30 pages of documentation. Then there was a test. The end.
That’s about as exciting as corporate training gets. That’s a story with no meaning, no significance and nothing to entice the learner. In fact, it’s not really a story at all! Human beings are hardwired to understand stories better than abstract information. Memory recall techniques like The Method of Loki3 have been around for hundreds of years and they all rely on connecting pieces of information with an over-arching narrative.
Each one of your employees is playing a minor role in the larger history of your organisation. They need to know the bigger picture before they can find their place in it. The more ways you can reinforce that narrative, the more powerful it will be. For example, if your learning platform doesn’t give you any personalization options, you might struggle to fit a dull, vanilla UI into the awesome story you’re trying to weave.
On the other hand, if you can design the platform to your brand, change the headings and labels to the way you speak, and regularly add custom banners, you can create a real, immersive experience for all your learners.
When you pay more attention to the big ‘whys’ in your business, you can start to give your learners the reasons they need to continue training. What’s more, your training program can transcend mere content delivery and start doing what it’s supposed to – teaching your people the behaviors and attitudes that really make a difference.