Connecting the Dots

Connecting the Dots: Why Course Customization is Important

There’s a small sign in my bedroom that reads, “Another day has passed and I didn’t use algebra once.” The sign was “lovingly” given to me by my sister as a joke. She’s always been a math whiz who likes to solve algebra problems for fun. My history includes avoidance of all things related to algebra after the mandatory high school classes. The reason for this, I now realize, is that I never made a connection between algebraic equations and the real world – not MY world, anyway. I could never envision a situation in which I would be required to find the value of some imaginary x. It wasn’t a case of not being able to learn algebra; I simply didn’t care about learning algebra. I memorized enough to pass the tests, promptly forgot it, and went on with life.

The same thing can happen when we provide employees with “canned” training programs. If we know one thing about adult learners (and personally, I believe the same thing is true for children), they are motivated to learn things that will help them or improve their life in some way. If people can’t make a connection between the content being presented and its application to their work, they will do what’s required to “pass” and move on. There will be no change in behavior or performance.

In my 30+ years in the training business, I’ve seen this a countless number of times. Scores of “generic” online courses purchased and made available to employees to improve their job performance. By clicking on a topic such as “Communication Skills,” hundreds of training options become available. The result? People are confused and frustrated; they click the buttons required for completion and go back to work.

Don’t get me wrong. Generic courses are not all bad. They can save companies a great deal of time and money. After all, some content IS generic. It doesn’t change. Two plus two always equals four, and good communication techniques are good communication techniques. What SHOULD change is the context – the setting in which the content is provided. When you purchase generic courseware, look for ways to customize it. Brand it to align with your company image, add examples that reflect the culture and work of your organization, and include related company procedures or policies. Connect the dots for your employees. Explain why it’s important to learn something and how it will help them succeed on the job!

Want to learn more? Read on!