It may seem strange that as MD of a training business I think most of the training being offered today is possibly a waste of time – and money                                                   

Training is dead: long live learning

14th February 2019

Malcolm Miller

Training is dead: long live learning

It may seem strange that as MD of a training business I think most of the training being offered today is possibly a waste of time – and money.

What!? Surely some mistake …

But wait a moment, before you get the wrong idea. I firmly believe that the best people to deliver your results are those in your business right now; if some or all (hopefully not all) were a bad hire that is possibly because of a poor selection process, and that’s another issue for another day. But if you accept that the team you have now is the team, then the question is this: how can you improve their performance?

When you hear someone say ‘training’ what do you think of – a group of people in a seminar room with a trainer sharing slides maybe? If it is a good session then there will be some lively activities and debates. Indeed, there is nothing wrong with classroom learning (at RTS Group we deliver quite a lot of it) but it can have a limited effect. We often call this the ‘Chinese meal effect’ – you feel full up and satisfied immediately afterwards, but by the time you get home you are hungry again.

Many forward-thinking organisations – and many outside the automotive sector – realise that classroom training is part of the mix, that is requires a blended learning approach with a range of mediums to challenge and develop people. This is not about cost saving, but about ensuring you are delivering the best learning and development for your teams.

Let’s also consider how adults, in the workplace, prefer their learning; we all have reduced time, more pressures and many calls on our attention and we need to ensure that time away from the workplace is used effectively. It may come as a surprise that it is not just millennials who are glued to their phones and screens – the majority of us transact online quite naturally and easily. Look at today’s students; they learn from their peer group in forums and discussion groups online, with communication from their tutors, in the same way. Access to wider study and reference material is online and the role of the tutor, in many cases, is to provide links and guidance to the right materials and to equip students with their own research skills.

What might a blended learning journey look like? A good rule of thumb can come from the 70:20:10 model, first proposed by Lombardo and Eichinger in The Career Architect Development Planner, which gives a platform to base a learning programme upon:

“Development generally begins with a realization of current or future need and the motivation to do something about it. This might come from feedback, a mistake, watching other people’s reactions, failing or not being up to a task – in other words, from experience. The odds are that development will be about 70% from on-the-job experiences – working on tasks and problems; about 20% from feedback and working around good and bad examples of the need; and 10% from courses and reading.”

The role of your training team and your learning and development partners is to develop the 10% of formal learning, but increasingly to help support your managers in coaching and to provide ongoing support beyond the classroom. Managers and leaders play a crucial role in developing your teams and performance development is not a one-time fix via a training programme.

How to build a blended journey

  • Provide an online resource. At RTS Group, we introduced our RTS Learning App. This allows us to engage with learners through the particular learning journey.
  • Load the app with key information that can be accessed 24-7, such as reading material, videos or animations.
  • Make the app interactive, so learners get to know each other, and can also use it as a registration point for events.
  • Include live feeds, where latest news and views can be shared.
  • Ensure documents can be downloaded so they can be used on a phone, tablet or laptop.
  • Include managers in the learning group, so they can coach and support the learning aims.

Here’s one example of how the RTS Learning App worked in practice. A manufacturer client launched two new products in the same month. We created two very different events, but were able to use one learning app, downloadable from Google Play or the Apple Store, which provided support for two very different events and products. This allowed our client to have maximum engagement with the retail staff and get bang from their buck in creating one app for two products. The learning extended from an experiential event, on into the workplace, and continuing to support staff right through the launch period.

If you’d like to find out more about how to build a blended learning journey, using the latest digital technology, please get in touch with the L&D team here at RTS Group.

Malcolm Miller

Malcolm is RTS Group’s managing director so he oversees everything in the company and spends a large proportion of his time on new business development. He joined us initially as an associate, setting up the Mazda Academy, and became MD in 2013. He is a Fellow of the Institute of the Motor Industry.

Malcolm’s background is as a freelance trainer, largely in the automotive sector but also within the finance industry. His first ever job was as a paperboy – he delivered 40 papers a day from 6am, and was paid double on a Sunday because of the weight he had to carry!

He admits he has a somewhat untidy desk and should probably get the coffees in a bit more often, but his good humour and go-getting approach mean the team let him off. In his spare time, Malcolm is a rugby referee travelling across the south of England, and he has three grown-up children. Malcolm describes himself as “curious” which makes him the perfect person to explore new opportunities for RTS Group.