The Best Way to Help Your Employees Retain What They Learn in Training
We often think we know something better than we actually do. For example, most customer service reps go through lengthy training sessions to learn what they should do in different situations. These sessions usually include a quiz at the end to “certify” knowledge of the topic.But… Three weeks from now, when an angry customer calls, will your CS reps remember the training—and act accordingly?The reality is that quizzes don’t actually measure true learning. They just measure recognition of facts a few moments after presentation.
You (And Your Employees) Do Not Have A Bad Memory
Have you ever heard a logical argument in a book or a podcast and found it incredibly compelling? But later, when you tried to repeat the argument to a friend, it came out as a garbled mess of half-recalled points?Frustrating, right? Too often, we sigh and say, “I have a bad memory.”The truth is, you probably have a normal memory.Saying that you have a bad memory is like saying that you have bad biceps. You just haven’t trained the muscle.If you repeated the argument 50 times over the next three days, you’d have it reasonably well-memorized. (It probably wouldn’t affect your biceps though). If you kept repeating it every day for three months, you’d know it inside and out. You’d easily be able to discuss it in detail, even while doing another complex task at the same time—like juggling, or making cookies to send to the Hickory team ;-).
Memory Responds to Repetition
Memory is just like other aspects of human anatomy. It responds to repetitive stress: growing stronger with more repetitions, and dissolving without them.Just like one bicep curl isn’t enough to strengthen your arm muscles, one interaction isn’t enough to “know” a piece of information. Yet this is how most training programs approach learning: a single exposure followed by a quiz. But as we've seen, quizzes don't measure retention of knowledge beyond a few moments after the information is first learned.Instead, we should be concerned with actual learning—with the knowledge our teams retain over time, and how long they retain it.
Refreshers and Spiral Curriculums Are Inefficient
To solve the problem of long-term retention, many teams implement one of two processes:
- Spiral curriculums
- Refresher trainings at set intervals
Spiral curriculums are designed to start with key principles and ideas, and constantly relating information back to those key points that have already been covered.Refresher trainings typically re-teach the entire training, sometimes in an abridged form (to save time). The problem with both of these approaches? They treat all of the information in the curriculum equally. Whether the learner has mastered a topic or not, spiral curriculums and refresher courses cover it anyway, wasting time and money re-teaching information that employees may already know.Both approaches are trying to provide the additional “reps” that employees need to master a topic. But even so, as a manager, can you really answer these questions at the end of these programs?
- How well does my team really know this information?
- What’s the likelihood they will act correctly when this scenario comes up?
Accurate Data Leads to Efficient Training
What if you had data about each of the topics you want employees to master during training?What if you could predict when employees would begin to forget the information covered in your training courses?What if you could deliver refresher courses that only covered information that employees were about to forget, and skipped information they’d already mastered? And what if it only took a few minutes a day over a few weeks for your employees?That’s what we’ve built at Hickory.The software tracks how well each employee knows each concept in a training, and it predicts how likely the employee is to forget it over time. It then delivers personalized reviews of the information the employee needs, right before they’re about to forget. Instead of hoping and assuming that your trainings have been understood and remembered, Hickory measures it, and creates personalized review plans accordingly.
Efficient Training Saves Time, Energy, and Money
When a training program is efficient, you can remove unnecessary trainings and refreshers from the program (saving time and money). You’ll also have the time to augment your existing program with more in-depth and advanced trainings.Ultimately, the only thing holding most teams back from a highly effective training program is the lack of knowledge - backed by data - about when to deliver those critical repetitions to your employees.And that’s what we’ve set out to solve.