The forget curve
Training might already be on your agenda, but how many times do you send your team on a course and a month later it’s all been forgotten? How is this possible? German psychologist Hermann Ebbinghaus investigated this phenomenon in his well-known study, the forget curve. Although it’s probably the most unreliable study ever – Ebbinghaus was the only respondent – it’s still often cited, and showed that within three weeks he had forgotten 92% of what he had learned.
So how can you, as a manager, use this knowledge to motivate employees to follow training courses? To get them to learn new things so that they become more productive, creative or innovative? First of all, by seeing learning no longer as the end, but the means, with the goal to make people perform better.
Consider, for example, the Excel course that many people have done in the past – face-to-face with an instructor, and 12 other people in the classroom with you. While you may have covered complicated pivot tables, a few weeks later when you needed to know how to use them, you couldn’t remember.
Luckily, it’s all different now. Online learning means that you can learn what you need, when you need it. It doesn’t matter if you can’t remember how to create a pivot table, you can just watch an online tutorial and follow the steps, supporting and optimising your performance at the touch of a button.
Facilitation is not enough
But this method doesn’t work for anyone. Sometimes just an internet connection and access to training material isn’t enough, and we’ve seen this at SkillsTown. We noticed a few years ago that only 15% to 25% of employees continue to train and develop on their own initiative. Forty percent to 60% of employees are interested initially in the training, and then as soon as their manager no longer keeps a finger on the pulse, they drop out. This led us to conclude that simply facilitating lifelong learning is not enough.
The SkillsTown difference
So, we’ve investigated how to get employees into a mode of continual learning and development, and we’re proud to say that our unique approach motivates at least 80% of employees to learn. Here are our top tips:
1. The ‘benevolent’: This is the small group of your employees that continue to train and develop by themselves. Continue to facilitate this trend, by offering training that benefits them and that matches their interests.
2. The ‘easily demotivated’: This group drops out of training after a while, and so should be constantly motivated to learn. Encourage employees to provide recommendations or write a blog on your company intranet, advertising the courses that you offer them and the benefits it will bring.
3. The ‘refuser’: For the group that doesn’t even log in or register, it is important to find out why. As a manager, talk to them and do some digging until you know the real reason for their lack of interest. Are the courses too long or time consuming? Can they only be done at certain times that isn’t suitable to them? Once you know what the reasons are, you can make a plan to remove these blockages for them.