How to Overcome Employees’ Learning Barriers to Training
Great news! You’ve been put in charge of training your company’s employees on a critical new regulation. And, even though training people isn’t in your normal range of duties, your bosses recognize your expertise and have picked you to do it. So now you have your outline … your presentation … your goals … and your supporting materials ready for the big day. You’re ready to provide a successful day of training. But, are your learners ready? Other than a complete power blackout during a massive thunderstorm, nothing can sabotage a great day of training faster than your audiences’ learning barriers.
In fact, those learning barriers can lead to disgruntled listeners … low to no participation … and negativity. And, just one bad attitude can spread like a virus throughout the day. Fortunately, you can prevent these potential problems and overcome these challenges. But first, you have to know the nine types of barriers that most learners have.
Here’s the list of learning barriers you’ll face along with a tip or technique professional trainers use to overcome them:
- Independence: It is critical to respect your participants’ experiences and accomplishments.
Independence isn’t something adults take for granted. It is something they’re proud of and they don’t appreciate it being undermined. Don’t talk down to your participants or treat them as children. Make room for a lot of participation and insist they accept responsibility for their own learning.
- Negative Feelings about Training/Learning: Encourage learning by avoiding situations that “test” your learner or situations that have a risk of failure.
For some adults, school wasn’t a positive experience. You may find yourself working with people who become hostile or upset either because they believe they aren’t good learners or because they think they’re being tested – especially when they’re in a group of their peers.
- Preoccupations and Mental Distractions: Help your participants relax and get focused.
When adults attend a training session they bring a lot of things with them. Tension, anxiety, and problems are just a few. You have to begin working on this right away. Have relaxing music playing when they walk through the door. Grab their attention with an eye-catching graphic or a slide on a screen at the front of the room. Greet them warmly and make them feel welcome.
When they walk in the door, give them a card with a funny quip or an observation appropriate to your topic or a question they can respond to in an unusual way that brings out a personal experience as a trainer.
- Resistance to Change: Sometimes attitudes have to change before permanent learning can take place.
The only way to persuade people to make such basic changes is to show them that the new ways of behaving are more productive than the old. When they see the results, their attitudes will change. Design your course to allow people to explore and discover the benefits of the new strategies you’re asking them to learn.
- Selective Filters: Adults only pay attention to what is relevant, interesting, or stimulating to them.
We all receive information through the things we see, hear, smell, taste, and touch, but we also have a filtering mechanism that allows us to screen out things that are distressing or unpleasant or just boring. It is quite possible to sit through a training session and not hear a word. It’s important to offer a variety of ways to consume training – from multimedia to case studies to note taking. Your audience needs variety and the change-up helps keep their attention and keep them focused.
- Unclear Motivators: The best training sessions satisfy learners’ needs, solve their problems and can be used immediately in the work place.
Most adults attend courses because they have a specific need or want to solve a specific problem. Often what they want is something that will make them more effective in their job. Make sure you tell your audience what’s in it for them. Tell them what they’re going to learn and how it will help them at work.
- Fear of Participation: Even people who normally enjoy socializing are inclined to get cold feet when it comes to taking part in learning activities.
This is due to the risk involved in exposing a weakness or revealing a fault. However, if you don’t participate, you probably won’t learn much. The wise trainer creates an atmosphere that keeps anxiety levels as low as possible. They make no judgments, make positive comments to reinforce desired behavior, and only offer constructive criticism.
- Strongly Established Habits and Tastes: Change becomes possible if we feel safe and secure.
Many people become disturbed or confused if things change too quickly. They’ve already established their habits and tastes, so they’ll resist if you try to push them into radical changes. As the person in charge of education and training, you’re in the business of causing change. It’s important to think about how to introduce new learning concepts without producing hostility and resistance. The learning climate is always important. Keep it cool and make sure the winds of change are soft and gentle – that’s when learning happens.
- Fear of Failure: Place the emphasis on personal improvement.
Many adult learners are uncertain about themselves. They often feel they are certain to fail and sometimes doubt their ability to complete the tasks involved in a course. You must clearly explain everything – especially the objectives of the training. The participants should realize that they will set their own standards. You should always let them know if there will be a formal test following the training.