Learning on The Job - Winning at Corporate Training
When you think of learning on the job, or any type of corporate training, the last thing you think about is a fun learning experience. And the last thing on any manager's mind is how to make the experience entertaining. In episode 40 of the MentorZ podcast, Kim Bilyeu talks about her experience training Quest Nutrition employees and how she made learning an engaging, fun experience.
A key to learning actually lays in our childhood! In some ways, we have never really grown up!
"I learned very quickly that adults and kids learn exactly the same, so one of the things I always tell people is that adult learning theory is a sham... how people learn, once you have the ability to think abstractly, is how people learn. And it's how the human brain works... I can motivate a group of adults with a bar of chocolate just like how I can motivate a group of 12-year-olds. And I know because I have done both."
So if abstract thinking is important to the learning experience, what elements allow for people to be comfortable and have fun?
Kim says that everyone wants to have their experiences matter, we all want to have an opportunity to do, play, learn, make mistakes, and be ok!
And the three fundamentals that allow for this are Fun, Interactive, and Relevant!
"I came up with three things training always has to be. And the three things, they are going to sound super basic, because they are, but too often they get missed. But training has to be fun, it needs to be interactive and it needs to be relevant... humans learn how humans learn, and it enabled us to start playing with that, and then we started building this idea that learning could actually be fun."
Like a lot of us, Kim does not "do boring" well, so she started to get herself into trouble when she became bored. For the majority of people, it's always best to keep things alive, fun, interesting, and engaging, and make sure it's also relevant!
There is a balance that every leader needs to maintain when it comes to creating their program.
"If you have two of the three, it's a near miss"
If its fun and interactive, but irrelevant, then there was no point to the game/ activity
If it's really relevant and not fun or interactive the activity will be really boring and no one will be engaged or participate
"It's our job to make this interesting, you can't just say 'well the learners couldn't be bothered' well, yah cause we put out a really bad product, of course, they couldn't be bothered. we didn't do our job... why do something you know people aren't going to enjoy, so I always use the test- if I wanna do it, then let's make it! And if I don't want to do it, probably don't want to make it! "
"What we all enjoy is interaction and universally that is something that is true... the first thing I learned is that you have to create an environment where people want to enter in together"
Over the years, Kim has created strategies that help people open up, feel seen, heard, and comfortable. One such way is by asking very simple questions:
"... my go-to question for an icebreaker is 'what's your favorite toothpaste?' ... it's amazing when you ask questions that seems inconsequential how much they will reveal about themselves."
Example and Result: " Well I never do the shopping. My wife buys all of the items that we need so I just use whatever is in the drawer ... ok so now that tells me the division of power at home. It also tells me your married, so now I can ask questions about, well tell me more about your family."
By asking very simple questions, you get a window into who they are because they make people feel that that they have control over what they choose to share. It allows for the environment to feel safer, and that means being honest.
You'll also need to give people a roadmap. It's important to show them where they are going, what they are doing, and what they are trying to accomplish. Nothing is less comfortable than having no idea what you're going to be doing while you are all together. Especially on your first day of employment.
Along the way, it's also more comforting to allow employees the ability to choose the levels of interaction they want to put in.
Example: One such game was Taboo, their own version of course, on learning about Quest's philosophy. There was major competition and candy prizes among them! Inevitably people started to give crazy answers and it became a memory among the group.
We are all childlike in nature, and to get your team members to truly learn (and to want that candy bar that much more) you will need to come up with fun, playful, and on-topic training modules/games that YOU would want to take part in, while also creating a safe and comfortable environment where everyone feels like a friend and knows it's ok to play and make mistakes!