Hosts Cordell Riley and Evan Hackel sit down with Megan Sweeney, learning strategy manager at Tortal Training, to discuss top training tips shared from past podcast guests.
Announcer: Welcome to Training Unleashed. The show that will help you design and deliver training that’s off the chain and will make a difference. Now here are your hosts, Cordell Riley and Evan Hackel.
Megan: Good afternoon, everybody. Welcome to Training Unleashed. It’s exciting to connect with Evan and Cordell again today. It’s good to see you all. We are excited today to bring you another 10-minute training tip chats. So try to say that several times I keep working on it but I think I’ll nail it soon. Today what we’re going to be doing is we’re going to recap and share with all of you listeners some of the top training tips Evan and Cordell have learned from some great business leaders over the month of March. So we’re so excited to kick this off. I’d like first to say hello to Evan and Cordell and see how you’re doing today?
Cordell: I am good right guys. How are you guys doing?
Evan: I’m doing really well.
Megan: I’m doing great. Thank you. All right, let’s go ahead and kick this training shot off. Evan, I want to start with you if you don’t mind. Let’s discuss this great training tip from Jeffrey. It’s going to read like this I really love this one, “If you want to learn to play with the big dogs, you have to learn to pee in the tall grass.” What does he mean by that, Evan?
Evan: Well, of course, I love it too. And when I first heard it, I went, “Huh?” And, you know, he’s got a book, you know, “Think Bigger” I’m not sure I got the name right, but here nor there. And I got to know Jeffrey, and this is what he really means is if you want to have meaningful conversations with people at a higher level, you need to understand how they’re thinking. And what that means is that if you’re talking to C-level executives, you need to keep reading The Wall Street Journal.
So you understand what’s happening in the world so when you’re having a conversation you can be equal with them. You need to be dressing similarly to them. You need to understand what their interests would be so that when you’re having conversations with them, they’re going to see you as a peer. And that’s really important that when you’re…
Whatever you’re doing if you’re looking… and what he’s talking about really is people being successful and people getting to that next level. And you know there… I’m sure people heard this before, “Dress for your next job, don’t dress for your current job.” And I think that’s really the point here. The point is, you know, you’ve got to think and act like the people that you’re trying to work with and communicate with. You’re a salesperson, you’re calling on big fish, then you need to be doing what the big fish are doing so that you can relate to them. And if you’re in the training profession, you should darn well be reading training magazines, and you should be going to training conferences and you should be learning about your trade.
So and I know, Megan, you know this at Tortal we invest a lot in training our people. In fact, every person has their own personal training budget $2,000 on anything they want that’s outside the company training. They want to go to a seminar, they want to go to something, we let we let them do that, because how can we be a training company if we don’t invest in training ourselves, right? So, you know, I guess I’m going a little off topic here but for all the people that are in training departments, what’s your trade department do to train people on training? So that’s a good thing to think about. Anyhow, that’s what Jeffrey means and I think it’s a great tip.
Megan: Thank You, Evan. I do as well, and I think it’s also about always wanting to grow and always being curious. And I think we’ve talked about that before, you know, and just kind of getting out there and, “What more can I learn to get even smarter and just more relevance?” Right? And two different areas that we’re going to be, you know, connecting with, so that’s a great one. Thank you so much, Evan.
Evan: You’re very welcome
Megan: Cordell, I’m going to come over to you for a couple minutes. And let’s talk about this training tip. “Invest in what’s important not just urgent.” Give us your insight about that one?
Cordell: Yeah, you know, that’s a great one, Megan, and we’ll just think about that for a second. We obviously work with a lot of different people that lead, run training departments inside their organization. I, for one, came from doing that job myself and I can’t count the number of times that something would happen or somebody will come and say, “Hey, we got this new role. Can we do something with this person to get him or her up to speed?” “Just had this challenge or issue and now we need to put training around it to get it to be fixed or whatever it might be.” “We just had this type of warranty challenge that came back. Well, let’s put the training in place to kind of goes out and do it.” If you just listen to all of those things, all of those sound somewhat urgent. Something happens, we’d react and we’d get some training around it. And we all know that training is not always all times the answer. It’s not always a training problem.
But when those urgent things come up people tend to want to react and say, “Okay, let’s put training around it.” And what he was really talking about here is really investing to what’s important. And what are you trying to do inside of your organization? So if you think about your organization and really think strategically about it, you know, that’s probably the big thing that I would encourage training directors, training VPs, CLOs to really be thinking about. You know, you are a steward of your company, your organization, what are you trying to do? What are the big strategic rocks that you’re trying to move for this year? You know, is it same-store sales? Is a net promoter score? Whatever it might be. What are those big rocks that your business plan is focused on this year? Okay, how can training have an impact? You know, and really start to think strategically about… “Okay, we are trying to affect…” I’m just going to use this as an example, same-store sale, okay?
What are the areas that are important to same-store sales? Is it how my people answer the phone? Is it how they greet the guests? Is it how they suggest items? What’s important to that particular item and start to think that way. Okay. Do we have training in place that’s going to affect that? If no and we know that’s a big rock force that’s important. We need to make sure our people can do that. We need to be investing our training efforts there. Am I saying that reactionary things are not going to come up? No, I’m not saying that. We all know that in the real world there’s sometimes there are some times we’re going to have to react to things but if you’re always in that cycle that’s not a recipe for success.
But if you’re in a strategic mode where you’re out front and you’re thinking strategically about it, it allows you to really focus your time efforts and training energy to those things that are important, okay? And the next step obviously once you do that you want to measure those results and see if they got you to that level or did they affect the type of metrics that we’re trying to move inside of our organization. So there is a lot that can be said on that first one. I think it’s really, really important to focus on those items that are really important that are going to move your position.
Megan: These are some great points, Cordell. I think all of us learning strategists in Tortal, we really focus on this great training tip and we can help during lots of conversations and relationship building, you know, kind of do a deeper dive and find out what’s really important, and move past what might be so urgent. So what a great tip. Thank you so much.
Cordell: Great point, Megan.
Evan: If I could add somewhat to the same vein, is understanding the difference between a root cause and a symptom. Because a lot of times people look at the symptoms and don’t really dig deep to the root cause, and the root cause is what needs to be improved not the symptom. And sometimes that symptom is a red herring. It makes you think and react differently than if you really understood the root cause.
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Megan: I’m going to go back to you for this next training tip. “Be able to think fast and have training tools that speak to each generation you are training.” Oh, there is a good hot topic.
Evan: We need to be able to react to the market in the training department. And I think one of the raps that training gets is it takes too long and that we need to be able to think about how we can rapidly improve the company when there is something happening in the marketplace that has to cause us to change. So if there’s something in that business model, how do we do it? In the last month, I talked about using technologies like Zoom to be able to do training live without flying people in.
That is certainly one avenue and way in which people can do it. I also want to add to this tip, which is, every now and then we need to look at our training and do an audit of, “How old is it and how current is it?” Because a lot of times we have stuff that we just as a training department, you know, people like it but we have people who haven’t used it in a long a long time, and when you go look at it it’s out of date which then kind of leads me into this conversation about generations.
Millennials, very shortly, will be the largest generation in the workforce, and how we train them and how they work and think is different. So if you go back to this conversation about training five years ago or ten years ago the quartile will validate this, you know, it was not unusual for people to think of an online training course lasting an hour, 45 minutes to an hour because we were dealing with different generations that have different attention spans.
Well, today, best practices are, you know, average about 10 minutes, and, you know, that’s a different generation. I think the good thing from my perspective is that if we focus on the millennial generation, how they like to learn which is generally it’s in smaller bits, more interactive, more hands-on, etc., that those things typically work for the other generations very well. Well, when you go the other way, and, you know, you designed something for an older generation, you know, like myself who’s a baby boomer, you’re not necessarily generating for something that works for the Millennials.
But you definitely want to look at your workforce and understand the predominance of that workforce and what will resonate with that workforce. And sometimes that might mean having more than one way of training and communicating because people definitely learn in different ways.
And I’m a big believer in training, you know, good training is repetition, and, you know, that you want leader-led training in organizations, you want eLearning, you can use webinars, you can… I mean, in there, you can use all kinds of different tools to resonate and know that certain people are going to resonate more to different kinds of training. And I guess lastly, I’ll say don’t fall in the generation pitfall of just assuming that everyone just because you’re in that age group thinks and acts that way.
That’s just not true. Predominantly Millennials are like this, but not all Millennials are like that. And, you know, particularly based on economic factors in terms of their access to technology, rural internet speeds, I mean they’re all kinds of things that, you know, it’s painting a big brush when you just say everyone in that age group is a millennial per se and there can be people older that act like Millennials and there can be people younger than Millennials that act more like baby boomers. It’s just the predominant. So the point is you need to really understand who your learners are and make sure that your training matches that. So I really think we got a bonus three tips for one in that tip because there was a lot of stuff in there.
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Megan: Well, I’d like to share a training tip that hits close to home to me with everybody and then I’d like to get your feedback. “Stop building training programs by yourself as a one-man show. Just stop doing it by yourself.” And I think this may connect to a lot of our listeners for all of those out there that are director of trainings, instructional designers, all of these great positions. Think about this, how many training programs have you built in your office, in the support center, and sent it out and it just doesn’t work? It’s not getting used. And it’s kind of like the definition of insanity.
And I say it it’s close to home because I’ve done that all too many times until I had my aha moments. And it’s also great that Tortal can help bring these aha moments as kind of learning strategies. Find out who your learner is. Get out there and involve into Evan’s point the different types of learners. Find out what works and resonates. Find out why it’s not working. Find out some of the pains that are out there in the field for whom you’re designing your training.
And what’s been really enjoyable about buy-in actually… relationship that keeps growing with my team at Tortal is the idea of learning and strategy and how we can kind of get in and break down those walls. It doesn’t have to be one person. It could be one person in the department. Why don’t you partner? Get out there. Think outside the box. And then when you involve the people in your fields to build a training program even it’s for restaurants, or if it’s with technicians, with large corporations.
If they’re in the field that learning can be a part of improving the training, the buy-in then just makes it huge, and it spreads like an awesome rumor and hopefully great flowers coming into the spring. But when I had the aha moment of involving people in the fields that are doing the job to help build the training that was a game-changer and then the training, I hate to say this, had started to be corny, but the training kind of became unleashed. So there, sorry, guys.
But, Evan, think about that. You know what I’m saying? Like kind of just stop doing it by yourself. What do you think?
Cordell: So I’ll jump in for a second, yeah, I’ll talk internally for a little bit our values as a company. What’s our first value that we talked about where we do our master meetings? Collaboration. Collaboration is such a great thing to business and, Megan, it certainly applies to your tip there. If you collaborate with people, and the right people to your point, the ones that are out there doing the job, whatever that job is, it’s just going to make your training so much richer.
When I first got into training back in the late ’90s, I mean, I worked for the corporate office and we had people in the field, and you can’t be sitting in what was called the ivory tower and building a training for people out there without going out there and no way pulling that group in and getting their feedback. It just makes the training so much richer. So collaboration, and it’s the absolute way to do it, Megan, so I think it’s a great tip.
Evan: if I can if I can chime in here, there is a problem in the world of training when the person that is actually doing the training, you know, writing, developing the training is such a subject matter expert, they know too much. And they use jargon, they use terms, they assume knowledge on the learner that the learner doesn’t have. And there’s a big benefit by using an ISD that doesn’t know the topic. Because they’re going to think like the person that doesn’t know the topic because they’re going to ask the right questions and build training design for someone that doesn’t know. And it’s sometimes very difficult for people that know too much to build really effective training.
And what I would say to someone that, you know, is in that place where, “Well, gee, I know too much. What do I do?” It’s exactly what Megan just said, is before you start, talk to the end-users, find out what they want to know, and then as you go and before you build everything out and get storyboards, show it to people that are actually going to be taking the training and get their feedback, get their questions, “You know, I don’t understand what this means or that means.” It’ll enable you to improve the quality of the training so that it reflects the real world. So great tip, Megan. Thank you very much.
Megan: Thank you very much, Evan and Cordell. Well, I think this is going to be wrapping up yet another great 10-minute training tip chat if I said that correctly. It’s always a blast to hang out with both of you, Cordell and Evan. Just let me know when we get to hook up again and start to recap and share some of these great tips. I look forward to it.
Evan: Sounds great.
Cordell: Looking forward to it as well, Megan.
Evan: A lot of fun. Take care, everyone.
Megan: Have a great day.
Cordell: Take care guys.
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