When training fails, it is generally because the learners haven’t understood the material on both an intellectual AND an emotional level. Intellectual level training focuses on the “what” and the “how”. What needs to be done and how do I need to do it?
We see this all the time. Where people say they don’t need training because they already know it, but they aren’t doing any of it. They haven’t truly connected with the “why”. Why is it important that I do it? What are the benefits of doing it or the consequences if I don’t?
There are only two reasons that humans do anything: 1) to seek pleasure; and 2) to avoid pain. These are the same two reasons that humans learn anything. Why do we learn the newest version of Microsoft Office? To do our jobs better (pleasure) and to avoid failing at our jobs (pain). Why do we learn new exercises or diets? To get sexy and delay death.
So, no matter how much we read, research, discuss, and ponder, we never truly learn until we connect with the material at an emotional level. Everyone knows that smoking, drinking, or eating too much will shorten their lives. We know at the intellectual level, but often don’t get it at the emotional level (if we did, we’d stop). Until a person really, really connects with the consequences at an emotional level, intellectual warnings do zero good.
All great training – regardless of topic – teaches the what, how, and the why. And it does it in a way that each participant can individually understand and key into. Experience is the best teacher because it provides the emotional learning.
Will Rogers really understood this principle. He summed up everything important about training design in three sentences: “There are three kinds of men. The one that learns by reading. The few who learn by observation. The rest of them have to pee on the electric fence for themselves.”
Design and evaluate your training programs accordingly…
Note: this is a repost of my very first blog post from almost a year ago. Hope you enjoyed.