By Louis Goldman and Declan FitzPatrick
When you want to get your people to think or act differently in support of your business objectives, it can be tempting to jump right in and simply tell them what you want them to know or do.
In other words: “Here is a bunch of information. And now we expect you to go apply it.”
But this style of employee education will seldom result in a significant change in your employees’ thinking or behavior.
What is the alternative?
When we conduct discovery with a client as we begin to develop e-learning or instructor-led workshops, we ask questions such as, “Why is this important?” “How will this help your people?” “What could be the consequences if people don’t understand and apply this information?”
And what we almost always find is that the fundamental message is not “Here are the seven steps in our lockout-tagout procedure.” Rather, it’s usually something much larger than that, more along the lines of, “Our lockout-tagout procedure allows authorized employees to be in control of their own safety because the person performing the work locks out all sources of energy and keeps the key with them.”
Think about how powerful that is. “We are showing you how you can be in control of your own safety.”
This perspective is not about the procedure. It’s about a larger understanding. And this larger understanding is the key to increasing employee engagement, elevating job satisfaction and optimizing long-term results.
What does a conceptual “big idea” do?
Unfortunately, these types of “big ideas” are too frequently left out of employee training. Conventional e-learning and instructor-led courses often jump right into the details, providing employees with bits of information that they are expected to somehow remember and apply.
And that’s a real shame—as that approach usually results in missed opportunities for learning—because people simply don’t learn by listening to pieces of information, magically combining the parts and understanding how they fit together.
Increase effectiveness through a deeper understanding.
The more effective approach would be to start by helping your people understand the big idea of what they're learning. When they understand the big idea, they can better understand the individual parts, and they’re better able to organize those parts and integrate them back into the overall context.
Ultimately, when we start by focusing on the understanding—communicating the conceptual big ideas about a topic—we set the stage for people to better assimilate the information, incorporate it into their decision making, and apply the knowledge more effectively.
Louis Goldman is Founder and Strategist at MPIX Communications. Since 2003, MPIX has been developing and delivering innovative programs that enable companies across a range of industries to improve their business results by optimizing their training and communications.
Declan FitzPatrick is a professional educator and curriculum developer with a focus on professional development. He has worked with MPIX Communications serving a wide variety of corporate clients since 2009.
We help our clients get business results by conveying information in ways that change how people think and act.
We help our clients define what information they need to convey in order to get a result. Then we communicate that information in a way that people can understand it, remember it and apply it.
We create performance-based training experiences which help learners carry the new knowledge or skills into their everyday work.
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