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There is always one person in a training room who simply doesn't want to be there. Often there is more than one. Experienced face-to-face trainers will be able to subtly encourage participation, but how do modern learning and development (L&D) professionals entice employees in the first place, and how do they ensure that e-learning fully engages employees? Nick Martindale reports.
For as long as organisations have offered their employees training, L&D professionals have found themselves having to overcome opposition. This could be from time-strapped individuals or people who just do not see the point.
“A lack of engagement with learning could apply to someone at any stage in their career, from graduates to senior leaders,” says Rachel Kay, managing director of Thales Training & Consultancy.
“Some people have an ‘I know it all’ mentality – perhaps they’ve been doing their job for 15 years or more and don’t feel like there’s anything new to be learned – while others may feel that taking time out could negatively affect their performance or how they’re perceived. Fear can affect an employee’s decision, too; they might feel they’ll be made to feel uncomfortable or that their inefficiencies might be highlighted.”
Richard Gregory is head of U+ – an internal talent team – at Rentokil Initial and used to work as a consultant at Accenture, where he designed a graduate training programme. Graduates can be particularly resistant to some types of training, he says, often thinking that they know how to do it already.
“One course called 'business writing' stands out in my mind,” he says. “Most graduates thought they were brilliant at it, but when I’d challenge the business leaders on the one piece of training that would make a real impact, it was that.”
The challenge for any L&D professional is to overcome hostility and devise ways to get employees to engage with training.
In the example above, it was simply a case of demonstrating why it was necessary, Gregory says: “The key is to make it relevant. By getting some executives there and showing them examples of why we were asking them to do this course, it had a big impact."
He believes, though, that getting greater buy-in requires a fundamental change of approach: “When we create courses, we sit down and try and understand the problem, write some learning objectives and then we write a cour