Tag Archives: adult learners

You Are What You Learn

“I am always ready to learn although I do not always like being taught.” Winston Churchill

Once upon a time, I thought that my students were like empty vessels, waiting for me to pour needed information into them. When they were full of whatever I poured into them, they would be able to do something, speak intelligently, or act upon the information. I was new to teaching adults, just able to drink legally myself, and scared out of my mind that I would say or do something wrong in front of my class. Many of my students were older than I.

My favorite classroom activities involved drills and simple games. I honestly didn’t know any better, and this is what I was taught to do with the students. They were learning a foreign language and needed the repetition. Never mind no one understood how to use what they were saying. That would be a lesson for a different day, in a different class. So, I kept repeating the verb conjugations and sentence structure. They did learn something, I’m sure. My students tested highest on the department exams. I knew what to teach them.

Fast forward several years to a different place and a different subject. There is nothing to drill these students on. They are more skeptical about the validity of what I’m presenting than those students learning a foreign language. I had to find new techniques and skills to reach these students. I had to understand that they do not always like being taught. For this group, learning how to must lead to application.

It makes sense to me that I have evolved in my teaching as I’ve grown older and observed how others teach. I couldn’t depend on the way I was teaching people over time. I had to accept that my students are not in class for me to fill them up with information that they should process on their own, outside of class. What I teach needs to be relevant and compelling. They want to learn, but they don’t like being taught.

This might seem evident, but I know instructors and trainers who are still simply lecturing to students and don’t seem to care whether what they say resonates with the them. They read slides from a PowerPoint presentation, droning on about whatever with little regard for the learners they are charged with teaching. If adult students and professionals are constantly told they know less than they thought they did, they will not respond to the message. Eventually the only people left in these classes will be the instructors and the few people who absolutely need to take the class on that day at that time. Adults vote with their feet.

LearningI choose to focus on application of skills and ideas. We discuss, we practice, we wrestle with the topic until we (notice it’s not or they) work together to learn and become better at what we do. Each time I step in front of a group of people with the charge to teach or train, I need to be better at what I do than the last time. This is how I approach the privilege of being a trainer. I help people achieve something they want or need through my instruction.

I am most certainly a different teacher/trainer today than I was at the start of my career. I believe this is due to one small question that I ask myself when I get ready to teach: Why is this important? More specifically: Why is this topic/skill/tool important for the students in my class today? If I can answer that question, then I know that I can confidently stand in front of the group and lead them through the syllabus for that session. Asking the question does not absolve me from presenting the material in an entertaining and relevant manner. It does not mean I can just tell stories or read from PowerPoint slides. I have to engage my learners.

My students may be ready to learn, but they don’t like to be taught.

Just Another Day

I have to admit it, I’ve been in a funk for a few days. It didn’t help that I spent too much time preparing for a training opportunity for which I didn’t have an agreement in place. Shame on me. I went into teaching this week with a bruised ego and a desire to prove to myself that yes, I can do it. So I was very ready to help a group of people tackle the intricacies of several technology tools for their real estate businesses. After all, I really like teaching tech!

I came home after the second of two full days of training tired and somewhat satisfied that I achieved my goals. The students picked up some tips, learned how to use the tools, and generally seemed happy with the class. Some even told me it was the best class they had attended so far (kudos to me!). I, however, have to acknowledge that I am also a bit dissatisfied, not with my performance, but with the ways we introduce people to a new profession.

It all starts with expectations. I don’t think anyone decides to spend money to fulfill the requirements for a real estate license (or any other profession that takes preparation and passing a test for entry) with the knowledge of the things it takes to be successful. That knowledge is acquired by learning on the job and the kind of training I do. Unfortunately, managers and companies that hire people to fill roles that require more training need to explain what candidates can expect to do as they start their careers. Too often, recruiters spend far too much time extolling the benefits of the work rather than explaining the work itself.

In most fields today, technology plays in important role in the day-to-day work of the business.  Most jobs utilize some form of technology tool, even if it’s only email. I see people coming into real estate who can’t distinguish between an email address and a website address. Because real estate agents often communicate with prospects and clients via email and use their websites for lead generation, this is an important distinction. I can explain the difference and I can teach someone what to type, but eventually, they have to learn and stop making the mistake. 

It’s the lack of understanding these kinds of fundamentals that perplex me. I’m not going to blame age. I know plenty of older people who are very adept at using technology for business and pleasure. I usually hear one of the students in my technology classes announce to me before we start that “I’m not good with technology.” When I hear that, I could think “oh no, here we go again,” but instead I ask what that person means by “I’m not good with technology.” The more I know, the more I can anticipate problems and try to adapt my teaching. I give the person admitting difficulties credit for understanding their weaknesses. It doesn’t absolve us from setting proper expectations coming into the profession or introductory training.

Whose responsibility is it to ensure the newcomers into our profession are able to master the tools they need to carry out their jobs? The responsibility falls on the trainers and the students alike. I find nothing wrong with telling adults that they need to practice and learn what I teach them. I don’t give out grades; their business will show how well they learn and put what they learn into practice. I am a resource person and a motivator. I help them understand how to do something, what to do in different situations, and most importantly, why it should be done. I expect the student to connect the dots.

I want students to have a good experience in training. It can be difficult for them and me if expectations are not set coming into training and students are deficient in basic skills. I will continue to be patient and help those who lag behind others in the class. At some point, though, it will be painful to struggle to catch up. I worry that the pain will outlast the benefits of practicing an exciting, new profession and cause someone to reconsider after spending time and money to get this far. That’s not fair to the newcomer.

Got Ethics?

As a way to boost milk consumption, the California Milk Processor Board began to use the tagline “Got Milk?” You may have seen the commercials on TV, the billboards, or the ads in magazines. The use of the line spread across the country as celebrities posed the question with milk mustaches. Suddenly it was cool to drink milk (and show your milk mustache). The refrigerator staple that people pour on cereal and drink with chocolate chip cookies is a common thing people can buy and consume. But what about ethics? Are ethics something you can acquire and use when needed or desired? Do we need to teach people ethics? And what about industry-specific business ethics?

Ethics, at its simplest, is a system of moral behavior. We often think of ethics as standards of behavior – what people should or should not do in the context of a situation. Everyone operates by some code of ethics whether they recognize it or not. Religions and philosophies provide us with standards of behavior such as the Ten Commandments or the Golden Rule, for example. Ethics has to do with social standards, whereas morals refer to a person’s ideas of what is right or wrong. In this context, teaching ethics makes perfect sense. We are not prescribing a person’s moral character in ethics; rather, we look to teach behaviors that align with the type of ethics the individual should adhere to.

Many states require real estate licensees to take an ethics continuing education course as part of license renewal requirements. In Ohio, this law is called the “Canons of Ethics.” These laws are the legal standard by which someone can obtain and retain a real estate license. Any licensee who is also a Realtor® (a member of the National Association of Realtors®) must fulfill an ethics education requirement periodically as well. The Realtor® Code of Ethics dates back to 1913 and is updated annually to reflect changes in the profession. So the idea of teaching ethics to this profession’s members is not foreign. 

Nevertheless, it begs the question, how do you teach someone to be ethical? Is it possible to tell if someone “got ethics”?

To teach ethics is sometimes challenging because the consequences for not teaching it well can be high (think of a practitioner losing their ability to earn a living). Rarely does someone tell me that they think it’s silly to have to sit through the class. Students do challenge particular points or ideas, but they don’t dispute the need to learn them. What is most difficult is the how – how do we help people understand what they should do and convince them to do it?

I like to use case studies or scenarios to help students understand what they need to do to meet the ethical standards set forth by law and their industry. Case studies give students the opportunity to place themselves in the situation and consider what they would do. Sometimes their responses are incorrect when asked what they would do in that situation. This is a learning opportunity. We address why the response is wrong and how to remedy the behavior. As the class progresses, students learn the standards of ethical behavior they need to abide by to maintain their profession.

This material can be extremely dry and boring – unfortunately. I’ve sat through enough ethics classes as a student to know how it should not be taught. I find it best to approach the topic with humility and humor. If I can get students to laugh at the silly things the agents in my case studies say or do, it helps to make the point. It also becomes easier to understand the difference between incorrect and correct behaviors. Humor can help get your point across.

Each scenario comes down to one specific question: What would you do? I have found that most people want to do the right thing, but they may not know what it means in that specific situation. Sometimes it’s easy to follow the crowd and perpetuate bad practices because “everyone does it.” Just like your mother told you as a child, it’s not a good defense to do something just because everyone else is doing it. We have ethics to help us remember that there are better ways to act.

If a particular ethical standard no longer applies due to changes in society, then there are processes to get it changed. If it is law, we lobby our lawmakers. If it concerns industry ethics, that industry has a means by which changes are considered and acted upon. When I teach ethics, I point this out as well. Ethics are not stagnant; they are a part of society, and as society changes, so too should the ethics we reference as standards of behavior.

Ethics aren’t foreign. We all have some kind of ethical structure that we work within. My job is to help people understand ethics and how their business practices do or do not comply with the ethical standards they are required to adhere to. In the end, I trust that my students can say that they “got ethics” – with or without a milk mustache.

It’s About The Experience

I love getting surveys in my email about my last Starbucks or Panera visit. Hey, at least they cared enough to solicit my opinion! I almost always fill out the survey. Why? I had a string of less than stellar experiences at a particular branch of a “fast casual” restaurant chain and I let them know it after each visit. I got a response, too. In addition to the expression of gratitude for taking the time to let management know about my experience, they sent me a $25 gift card to encourage me to come back. I could only hope they took my suggestions seriously.

What do these surveys usually ask you about? If you visited a restaurant or coffee shop, you’ll be asked about the quality of the food or beverage you purchased. But look at the questions again. They want to know about your experience, too. How clean was the environment? Was the staff friendly or make an effort to get to know you? How would you rate your overall experience? Surveys like these are a way for the business to determine how successful it is at achieving a good customer experience; one that will keep people coming back for more. It’s not enough to provide good customer service – anyone can do that. The public wants a good experience.

How does this relate to training? Several years ago, I bristled at designating students as “customers.” They should want to be there to learn! Yes, and – they deserve an environment that’s conducive to learning. It’s not enough to put people in a room and tell them something (i.e. a “data dump”). What was a common teaching method twenty or thirty years ago assumes that people will put up with anything to get the content. With the proliferation of ways to get information today (books, websites, YouTube, Wikipedia, etc.), there needs to be a compelling reason for someone to attend your training session besides the topic or the promise of continuing education credit. They are looking for a specific kind of experience in your classroom or webinar that will assist their learning.

In my opinion, the best trainers are those who can teach, entertain, and motivate people. The trainer needs to know the subject matter inside and out. Beyond that, the trainer also needs to be able to use techniques that foster learning and an environment conducive to learning. Let’s explore these three aspects of training:

  • Teach: Teaching is more than imparting information to an audience of people you expect to be sponges. Most of us who teach for a living understand that we need to use different ways to get our message across. We might use a presentation to support a lecture. Other times a demonstration might be in order. We also employ discussion, small group exercises, facilitation, role play and a host of other techniques to help us teach the content to a group. As instructors, we need to determine which ways to present the material we are charged with teaching to students. It’s part of our job to figure out what might work best and use appropriate techniques for the situation.
  • Entertain: Students need to like you before they’ll listen to you and do what you tell them to do. If you’re a likable person and everyone automatically absorbs your lessons, congratulations! Most of us have to work at presenting information in such a way that our students accept the tough lessons we’re trying to impart. When I say “entertain,” I don’t mean perform a song and dance routine. You might use humor to get them to laugh and relax. You might tell stories to elucidate a point. One thing becomes clear, though: The more you can use humor and stories in teaching, the more likely it is that the lesson will “stick.”
  • Motivate: Much of the time, we are looking for people to make changes as a result of our training. It may be something simple as using a different process or procedure. Learners might need to follow a new law or regulation. In my case, I am trying to get people to change their behaviors in their real estate businesses. I want real estate agents to have more conversations with potential buyers and sellers. I want them to be strong presenters and negotiators. I want them to use a technology tool to enhance their businesses. They need to understand laws and regulations and be able to follow them in their daily activity. I can teach them the dialogues and techniques, but if I can’t motivate them to use the dialogues and techniques, students have wasted their time in class. I have to know the “why” for anything I teach. Why is this important? Why does someone need to know this? I constantly ask myself these questions (and more) as I’m training. I often use stories to illustrate my points and motivate students to take action. I gauge acceptance of my words by the expressions I see on students’ faces and adjust accordingly. I know I need to motivate people to make changes they might otherwise not.

Many adult learners would rather do something else than sit in a classroom. My job as their trainer is to make sure that what I teach will be received enthusiastically or at least warmly. I want to motivate them to put their learning into action. I can give them good service or I can give them an experience they’ll remember. I opt for the experience.

Technology Training Options

My favorite go-to source for “how to” instructions is YouTube. When I need to learn how to do something on my computer, phone, or tablet, I open up YouTube and type “how do I .  . . ” into the search box and at least one of the results usually gives me what I want to know. I can watch a video and dissect the steps needed to perform the action necessary at the time. I’m not the only person who does this, but I do know many whom a video on YouTube does not help. They need something more than watching a video, alone. They need an instructor and a class.

This is where technology training comes into play. There are essentially two ways to deliver technology training: Demonstration or hands-on training. Demonstration classes can be either live, in-person or online, or on-demand. Hands-on training is always live, in-person training. Both have their place, and they each have pros and cons. Let’s look first at demonstration as a means to deliver tech training.

In a demonstration class, the instructor shows the participants a particular work flow or how to accomplish a task. The participants watch the instructor work through the process while the instructor explains each step. There are at least three positive aspects to delivering tech training by demonstration:

  • Low internet need: Because students are not using internet bandwidth for online tools, this type of class can be helpful when the location may be challenged to make enough wifi available for participants. An instructor can run the class using a wifi hotspot, if needed. Sometimes the best laid plans for hands-on training turn into a demonstration class when the wifi won’t support the number of devices being used in class.
  • Quicker: Because the instructor doesn’t need to start and stop to deal with individual hardware or connectivity issues, a demonstration class can be delivered faster than hands-on training. There should always be time for students’ questions as you demonstrate a tool.
  • Create excitement: When participants see what a tool can do for them when used as intended, they become excited about using it themselves. A demonstration class can cause them to try out the tool where if they had tried it themselves with or without hands-on training, they may have become frustrated and tuned out the instruction.

Hands-on training gives participants the ability to become familiar with using the tool. For some learners, “doing it” is the only way to truly learn how to use technology.
The instructor acts as a leader through a process or task; the student mirror the instructor’s actions to learn how to navigate a new tool or process. Positive aspects of hands-on training include:

  • Learning by doing: As much as we’d like to think people can learn by reading or watching instructional materials, some of our participants prefer to learn something by doing it. For these learners, hands-on instruction is their preferred method.
  • Answer questions: As learners work through a process or task, questions arise that may not have occurred to them watching a demonstration. Hands-on classes give them the ability to ask these questions and the instructor the opportunity to answer and reinforce what has already been presented.
  • Corrections: In hands-on training, instructors can address common usage mistakes on the spot. Nobody’s perfect, and often participants make mistakes that become learning opportunities in class. This can lead to less frustration when participants go back to work and begin to use technology tools on the job.
  • Individual help: If you have additional instructors available to roam the room, you’ll have people to address individual needs quickly and with fewer interruptions for the entire group. This gives participants the security to ask what they perceive to be “stupid questions.” If they feel comfortable, they may learn easier.

Both types of training and advantages and disadvantages, so when should you use demonstration or opt for hands-on training?  First, answer a few questions about the intent or purpose of this class:

  • Is this an overview to familiarize people or an opportunity to try out something?
  • Do you expect people to generally understand what to do or be able to perform tasks?
  • What is the method of delivery? (Online, in person, or recorded?) How will people be able to apply learning if they are watching a webinar, for example?
  • Will you be the only instructor available to work with the group?

When you answer these questions, you’ll find that the method of delivery becomes clear. You might also find that you plan for a two-step process where you might introduce the tool in a demonstration class or webinar and then follow up with hands-on training to take participants through the material you presented in the first class. When creating your lesson plans for either type of training, chart the process based on case studies for ease of presentation. Build in time for questions and getting side-tracked (you know it will happen). Encourage participants to get one-on-one assistance after class by scheduling the time and publishing that you (or another instructor) will be available for personalized help.

Be prepared for class with job aids. You might create printed materials with screenshots and step-by-step instructions. You could use infographics to illustrate the steps needed to work with a tool or perform an action. Perhaps you have created or have access to videos that participants can refer to after class. A web page with links to resources could be part of a follow-up email after the class.

Technology training doesn’t just “happen.” It takes time and consideration to put together the appropriate approach to the material and plan how learners will be introduced to it. Moreover, you will want to place technology training in a larger context of your training program. How will it fit in? How does learning technology tools help people do their jobs? Then, consider how you want to present the material and what will be the next steps when you determine whether to use a demonstration class or hands-on training for technology tools.

What’s So Funny?

Professors who used corny jokes in my college days were considered at best quirky and most often just plain silly. We rolled our eyes at the jokes and thought they were crazy. They got me to pay attention, though, and herein lies the wonder of humor in the classroom: People are more likely to sit up and listen to what you’re saying if they like you or at least chuckle at your silly jokes. Humor enhances learning, especially when the humor is perceived to be relevant to the lesson being presented.

There have been many studies done on this topic. Some of them are anecdotal (this is what people told me) and some are more analytical (results of questionnaires or surveys). The basic question the studies seek to answer is: Why does humor help people learn? The consensus seems be that humor, when used appropriately, can have several benefits from helping students retain information to an increase in interest in learning and a decrease in anxiety and stress when dealing with difficult material.

One interesting study looked at the pros and cons of using humor in college classrooms. It became clear to the author from the answers to survey questions collected that humor done well improves students’ learning, retention, and attitudes toward the subject matter being taught. Humor that falls flat or is even inappropriate lessens the likelihood that students will understand the material or pay attention. Humor, when done well, is a positive reinforcement of the subject matter being taught and a way for instructors to help students learn.

How can you use humor with adult learners? It doesn’t really matter if you’re a naturally funny person or not. What counts is appropriate and relevant uses of humor in the learning environment. Humor that makes people uncomfortable or isn’t germane to the subject will fall flat (or even cause students to reject the instructor), but a well-timed joke or story that relates to the material being presented can solidify the point you’re attempting to make. To do this well takes a little practice and a good supply of stories and jokes.

I keep a list of stories and jokes to use in the classroom. For any particular topic, I can usually find something on my list that will help me warm up a classroom or drive my point home. If people truly learn well when you use humor in your lesson, then it makes sense to work this into your lesson. And, if using humor gets you invited back to present again, why not? At the very least, if you can’t be funny, be fun. Laugh at yourself if you make a mistake!

If you are going to used well-timed jokes or stories in a presentation, practice enough to make them succinct and natural. Try out new ideas on colleagues or friends first if you’re in doubt about how something might work in a presentation. If a joke or story falls flat, try to figure out why and don’t use it again in a classroom until you have determined whether it was your delivery or the topic that didn’t work well. Avoid singling out students and centering the joke or story on one person. If you make a reference, be sure it’s something most people will understand (TV references from your childhood may not work!). It’s important to focus on both your delivery and the relevance of the humor you’re using.

Humor can be a wonderful tool in your training/teaching repertoire. Use it well and wisely to help your students like and trust you, understand the material better, and leave the class wanting to come back for more.

 

Distractions

There are distractions around us every day. Trying to conduct a training class with distractions in and around you is challenging.

There’s the property maintenance crew running the lawn mowers outside the window. Or the training class is in the middle of an office thoroughfare with people walking back and forth, having conversations in the process. Then there’s equipment that fails or lack of promised supplies.

These and more present themselves during training, and as trainers, we have to figure out how to keep the class focussed. Sometimes it’s enough to have people work in pairs or small groups and let them complete a task, then bring the group together for discussion.

To have participants in the class who take you off track is most challenging. They come in at least three “flavors.”

  • The grandstander wants all the attention, all the time. This person regularly interrupts the class to ask irrelevant questions, give a lengthy opinion of the topic we already covered, or ask personal questions. The grandstander thrives on questions and comments from other participants and will hold court at the drop of a hat.
  • The sub-trainer feels the need to explain everything covered to participants around him/her. This person wants to demonstrate that he/she knows just as much as the trainer and really doesn’t need to be in the class.
  • The CEO takes calls in the middle of a class and has to run out of the room multiple times to talk, missing pieces of information in class. Upon return, this person asks for clarification of points covered while he/she was out of the room. Everyone experiences a double distraction: once when the person leaves the room (often stumbling over desks and chairs in the process) and again when they return.

There are probably more types of distractions or disruptions that occur during a training class. How can a trainer deal with the frustration that he/she inevitably feels when experiencing such disruptions?

  • Be cool. It sounds easy, but it takes practice. The less likely you are to blow your top in front of a room full of professional development participants, the more likely you’ll get the material across to them in a way that causes it to stick.
  • Smile, nod, and put off the question. Sometimes you have to interrupt the questioner, but if it’s truly something that needs to be taken care of outside of the current session, the participants will be happy you stop this before it takes over the class.
  • Set the stage. Tell participants what you expect when you start the class. If you are o.k. with them leaving the room to take calls, tell them so but warn them not to disrupt others in the process. If you really don’t want people to take calls, tell them to put their phones away and turn them off. One successful technique is to tell participants what to do: Create a voicemail greeting for just that day telling callers when you’ll get back to them and setting up an e-mail out-of-office message that says essentially the same.
  • Let participants help. Use “teach-backs” or other methods to have participants teach each other the material you have presented. This gives them the opportunity to demonstrate competence and to reinforce each other’s learning.

Disruptions and distractions are common in busy places. With a little practice, a trainer can minimize those that come from the participants (and work on moving the training class to a quieter venue!).

Monday, Monday

Mondays toward the end of a month mean teaching tech training classes. I have the pleasure of teaching agents new to our brokerage how to use the tools we provide for their real estate business.

This seems like a noble cause, and honestly, I do enjoy being able to help the agents learn what the tools can do for them. There are days, though that try my patience. Today was one of those days.

Five minutes before class, there was only one person in the room besides me. There were eight names on the list of registrations. My first thought was that perhaps they decided to skip class to see the solar eclipse. Over the next five minutes, people wandered into the room. One man showed up without a laptop. This class is hands-on training, and agents are prompted upon registration and reminded the day before class to bring a laptop with them. He asked me if he should have a computer. I said yes. I know from experience that those who come without a computer end up staring into space and not getting much out of the class. He departed to retrieve his laptop and arrived at class an hour late. He struggled to catch up with the other participants.

Note to self: Be more explicit with the reminders about bringing a laptop to class.

Sometimes participants are worried that I won’t cover something that they have a burning desire to know about. I always start the class by telling them what the agenda is and how we will accomplish each item on it. That doesn’t stop them from asking me about things I will cover in the minutes to come. This happened repeatedly today. Despite my best efforts to reassure them, I continued to get “how do I” questions that I would cover in short order. Two things about this: It causes me to constantly say “We’ll get to that” (which sounds like a cop-out) and it heightens the level of frustration the agents feel. Neither is a good option.

Note: Prepare an outline and give it to the agents to follow through the class.

Complicated topics require extra preparation and targeted delivery in class. I try to break down the process and explain carefully what the steps are as I demonstrate them. I repeat myself and the demonstration often, and prompt agents to work along with me through the process. Most of the participants stay on track and can follow. A few are unable to keep up and all of a sudden I get the dreaded “where are we?” question. I then must stop the class and assist the person who has gotten off track. It can be as simple as helping them with a click or two to get to where they need to be. Sometimes it requires troubleshooting a range of issues from browser type to restarting the computer to Install updates that the person inadvertently clicked on. It takes time to get back to where we were. It’s frustrating for the participants who work diligently to keep up. It’s frustrating for me to have to stop and start multiple times because some participants are somehow unable to follow directions or pay attention for a period of time.

Note: Break down the process into shorter, more digestible chunks and check in with all participants on a regular basis to make sure they are able to follow along.

When you get to the end of a long day of training, both the participants and trainer are tired and ready for a break. I try to summarize the actions I covered and what they should have learned over the course of the day. It never fails that someone claims he/she doesn’t know what to do or how to do it because they “just don’t get it.” My attempts to calm the frustrations and explain that all participants will want to practice with various tools can fall flat. Such was the case with one man today. He just couldn’t understand the process of setting up a signing session for his client to sign documents electronically. What finally came up was a general angst about not knowing which documents are needed for different situations. Although I could answer his questions, he was convinced there was nothing that could help him (there is/are–he just decided that there wasn’t). I fought hard to not lose my temper or get sarcastic with the agent. My tolerance for this kind of response at the end of the day is nil.

Note: Devise a way to communicate expectations for agents so that they understand the scope of what is covered in the class and where to go for additional help.

Tomorrow is another day of tech training. If I had my way, I would break down these two full days into several shorter sessions. The reality is that everyone (managers and agents alike) want to get through the introductory training as quickly as possible. Ideally, agents would go online for much of the compliance and basic tools training before coming to a class. In class we would focus on application of the tools in selected situations. I have moved the syllabus of this sequence to a more situation-based approach. The next step is to create the online modules to take the place of some in-class time.

Note: Create more online modules and rework the class outline to incorporate them into the sequence. Schedule less time in class. Communicate the rationale for this mode of delivery and get agents and managers to buy into the changes.

A good night’s sleep does wonders for my ability to handle even the most frustrating situations in tech training. Sometimes that’s all I can do to prepare myself for the next day’s adventures!