Motivate or Fail

Training must be motivational.  If people know what to do but have no desire to do it, they won’t.  If they won’t do it, what have you really trained?  Here are three quick steps to create a motivational training experience that gets you the results you want.


STEP 1:           Position the material at a point of interest with your attendees.  That point is between what causes them pain and where they’d like to be in relation to the topic. 

  • Observe the issues faced in relation to the topic.  For instance, in a process for customer service the point to position your material is between where they run into roadblocks or frustration and where they handle the customer quickly, efficiently, and hear a sincere “thank you.”
  • Remind them of the pain.  “Imagine you’ve just answered a call from a screaming customer who’s already come through five people, been cut off once and had to start over, and been asked the same questions by each person.”
  • Have small group discussions on where they run into problems and the impact.  After debriefing, ask them what might alleviate those problems and use their information to frame your material.  “You mentioned that one challenge you face is customers not getting to the right person immediately.  This process identifies three questions to ask to immediately ensure they’re with the proper person.”


STEP 2:           Use real life stories to anchor your material.  When they see the information working in environments they know are real, they’ll be willing to try it when they return to work.

  • Don’t show vignettes with no basis in reality or from entirely different environments. 
  • As you walk them through the situational analysis, keep pointing them toward their work.  “Has something like this happened to you?  What was your first instinct?  What did you do? What would happen if you tried this?”
  • Use role playing or “active practice.”  Be sure to include discussion of how each side felt during the interaction.  It is often just as useful to understand interactions from the “other” side as it is to know what you’ll do.


STEP 3:           Give them an action plan. 

  • Start with specific, low risk tasks to create comfort with the new knowledge.  Confidence takes time and practice.  Confidence motivates.
  • Have them report to someone familiar with the training material when they see opportunities to use the new knowledge/skills.  Have those discussions include answers to questions like, “What happened when you used the skill/knowledge?  How did that feel?  What might you do differently next time?  How might that work?”
  • Ideally, have a follow-up session with all trainees where they report their progress, success, and challenges.  Encourage everyone’s involvement.  Look for consensus areas and develop action plans with the group for challenges.


Motivation is key to successful training.  There must be valuable content and there must be the motivation to turn that content into action.  That’s when training works.

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