You know training is essential for your teams to be healthy and grow, but are they learning? You need both, but don't assume one comes with the other. Training and learning are two different yet interconnected parts of the complex and fluid education process. By definition, training uses various methods to give knowledge and information to people who seek it. Learning is the series of activities that people engage in to take that information in, understand it, and integrate it.
Ideally, training and learning happen in tandem. However, that's rarely the case. When training doesn't result in changes or new behaviors, it's clear the participants didn't learn, and there is a disconnect. It takes both training and learning for new knowledge to change actions.
If you are in charge of developing training programs, you work tirelessly to ensure your company creates and presents materials for participants to absorb, remember, and apply. To do this successfully, you must understand the critical differences between training vs learning.
Training Is Only Successful with Learning
Training programs are only successful if learning takes place. Industry leaders who invest time and resources into training and don't see results can testify to that. So can anyone who has left a training class knowing less about a subject than they did before.
What causes the disconnect between training and learning?
Common Issues with Training that Prevent Learning
There are several common issues with training that prevent participants from learning.
Participants don't see value in or connect with the material
Before any training begins, every participant should be able to answer the following questions:
- What am I expected to learn during this training?
- Why is it valuable to me?
- How will I apply this new knowledge in my job?
If teams can't answer these questions initially, it's unfair to expect them to engage with the training. Clear training objectives help to bridge the gap between training and learning.
Lack of practical assessments during training
Assessments should happen during all training phases, not just at the end. When assessments are given before training, participants and trainers understand where they are as far as competencies and mastery.
Assessments during training determine how much each trainee has mastered and can show what concepts need reteaching.
Finally, post-training assessments provide a realistic view of the program's overall success. Evaluating people after the training will indicate whether they can retain and apply their new knowledge.
When you introduce participants to new concepts and processes, they may not recognize shortcomings in their understanding. They need assessments to show them where to seek additional help or explanations.
Training is often designed for a single learning style
There are eight distinct learning styles. Unfortunately, training often accommodates just one or two, leaving many struggling to learn in ways that aren't optimal for them. When you personalize training according to learning style, the outcomes improve significantly.
There is more emphasis on technology than content
When it comes to the disconnect between training vs. learning, over-prioritizing technology is a real issue. Training professionals often focus on the technologies they can use to deliver instruction. While delivery is important, instructional design and content are crucial to learning.
Management doesn't buy in
If management doesn't see the value of training for their team or the organization, they will not motivate anyone to engage or learn actively. While it can be difficult for managers to embrace training that could leave them shorthanded, it's crucial to promote a genuine culture of learning to help your teams thrive.
Participants are afraid of or frustrated by change
Training often precedes a change in the workplace. It may introduce new processes and procedures or add additional expectations. Not all of these changes happen through democratic processes, generating fear and doubt in the organization. This doubt leads to a critical point of friction that highlights where training vs. learning can conflict with one another.
Imagine being overwhelmed and short-staffed at work, then being expected to learn processes that will make your daily tasks even more difficult. That's a challenging circumstance to learn and integrate new knowledge effectively.
Lack of post-training support
It's difficult to tell how effective training has been until participants apply what they have learned. This application period isn't always a smooth transition, and teams need support to incorporate these changes.
The most effective training is thoughtfully designed. It considers the current culture, needs of the organization, and the roadblocks to learning that might exist. Then, address those things up front to create better outcomes.