Employee Training

How can training be designed to motivate learning and accommodate trainee differences? Consider learning styles, adult learning theories, and motivation.

Please use the information below as reference:

We will look at how people learn. Do you know how you learn? Are you visual, auditory, kinesthetic? People take in information in different ways. As trainers, we need to know and understand these different ways of learning. Learning theory is based in science and gives us a road map for how things work. Science gives us the basis of behavior, learning, and attitudes; gives us a logical rationale of what is true; provides practical applications; and shows us the relationships among the facts that we find. By understanding and being able to apply theory, we can prevent undesirable things from happening and we can change a situation or an attitude.

Learning is changed behavior. As trainers, we need to understand what motivates learning, how people learn, what prevents people from learning, and what barriers we need to remove to increase learning. We also must understand where people are in the hierarchy of needs (Maslow), that satisfying experiences tend to be repeated (Reinforcement Theory), the relationship between goals and actions and what happens when they are incompatible (Expectancy Theory), and learning by observing others and noting the consequences (Social Learning Theory).

As trainers, we can use material in our designs and help employees become more effective by understanding learning categories. These categories include the lowest and most basic signal, which refers to Pavlov conditioning, to the mid-level of two or more verbal associations, to the high, where we engage our brain based on the principle of two or more concepts logically connected. The highest level is problem solving, which involves retrieving two or more concepts and combining them to produce a new result.

Adult learning. Adults have to want to learn, they must have time to learn, and they must have an opportunity to practice what they learn (experiential) so that they can apply it. Various learning tools can be used, such as books, workbooks, audiotapes, videotapes, and computer-based training (CBT). Learning can take place individually or in groups. Sometimes learning includes on-the-job training, small group study, and/or large group presentations. Adults learn best by doing an activity that reinforces the learning. The environment must be conducive to learning and take into consideration the amount of noise or distractions, ventilation, temperature, etc.

Although individuals differ in their basic motivational drive, we will define motivation as the willingness to exert high levels of effort toward a goal conditioned by the desire to satisfy some individual need. The following theories should provide a background to help you understand what motivates people.

Need Theories:

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs
a. Physiological – includes hunger, thirst, shelter, sex, bodily needs
b. Safety – includes security and protection from physical and emotional harm
c. Social – includes affection, belonging, acceptance, and friendship
d. Esteem – includes self-respect, autonomy, achievement (internal) and status, recognition, attention (external)
e. Self-actualization – drive to become what you are capable of—self-fulfillment.

Motivation-Hygiene (Frederick Herzberg) refers to what factors related to job satisfaction or dissatisfaction (intrinsic or extrinsic)
McClelland’s Theory of Needs:
a. Need for achievement
b. Need for power
c. Need for affiliation

By understanding what a person’s needs are, you are able to understand what the driving forces are that will appeal to them to get them to change either behavior or actions. We can use this knowledge as we design effective training materials.

Strategic Planning
Strategic planning answers the questions of “where shall we begin?” and “what do we want to accomplish?” How are we planning to address the accepted needs of the people we need to affect? We need to become aware of what our entire training plan entails and how it will affect the organization. Only through planning will we be able to show our return on investment (ROI).

There is usually an organizational strategic plan that focuses on the direction that the company plans to take over a specified period of time, which is usually one, three, or five years. The Human Resources (HR) office usually has a strategic plan that addresses its goals and may be one, three, or five years in the future. Then, Training has a plan that also addresses its goals. The real need here is for all of these plans to be aligned. Often this does not happen and each area has its own direction, existing separately from one another. When this happens, the organization
suffers. We will be looking at incorporating the training plan into the overall strategic plan and making sure that it addresses the needs and desires of HR too.

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