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by Renie Cavallari

There is a huge difference between training and learning, and the gap between these two can be vast. Training-as it's often done in hospitality-has a 'dump and jump' mentality. Dump all the information, then leave. Forget tools to help keep the knowledge alive. Forget real learning. Forget sustainable change. 

What good is training that dumps and jumps? Worthless! What employees need is true learning. Here is where the distinction between training and learning comes in: Training is mere delivery of information. Learning-real learning-starts when people understand the application of information. Only when someone sees how information is applied can they move out of the outdated training model and learn through experience how to utilize their new knowledge.

Where the Bike Comes In

One of the best examples I have to illustrate training vs. learning is learning to ride a bike. My daughter Bella loves to ride. But that wasn't always the case. When we first bought her bike, she had all the knowledge she needed to know how to ride it: Here are the brakes. Use the handlebars to turn. Knowing all this, could she ride the bike? No. Knowledge is where normal training stops. Really, it's just a starting point.

I did my best to impart my own experience riding bikes to Bella and show her the application of that knowledge: Squeeze your brakes to slow down. Lean to the right to turn. I got on my own bike and demonstrated the skills. Bella knew what needed to be done more clearly now, and she still couldn't stay up on that bike!

Knowledge and application aren't the full picture. Demonstration is key. When a person demonstrates a skill they are learning, it is key to effecting competency. "Watch me ride the bike!" Bella says, and she rides a few feet. After three feet, Bella feels a bit more competent at riding her bike, and she starts to go for 10 feet, 100 feet, even a mile.

Competency is the point where the training wheels come off, and I can let go. Bella gets more consistent at applying her new knowledge, while practicing in a safe environment where she knows she won't fall and hurt herself. She has identified the gaps she needs to fill in order to ride a little further each time and balance on the bike without help from me. 

People have to feel good about making change in order to improve their skills and get new results. Now Bella starts to really fly. Down the street, around the block, she's a biking whiz! Why? Because she has confidence in the new skill she's learned. She is competent, confident, and ready to leave her mom in the dust.

Finally, we're at a place where Bella is officially a bike rider. She has found her potential through learning a new task, is confident in where it can take her, and she feels pride and enthusiasm for herself. She is now guided toward improving her biking skills even more and seeing where she can go on her own. 

What It All Comes Down To

Training is about effecting competency. Once you become competent, you don't have to rely on someone to create pride and enthusiasm; it's innately in you. Most training isn't designed with that mentality, though. We've all experienced a training session that lasts just a few hours and is meant to teach us a whole new way of doing things. Was it successful? No! You can't change a competency in that short of time.

A true trainer teaches little pieces over the course of an entire program and includes specific tools to grow learning beyond a single training session. This way, people gain confidence at a natural pace and start to drive their own momentum. Change happens because of momentum. You have to start slowly, make progress, and build momentum until you are riding your bike the whole way down the street. 

Start with the goal you want and build a program backwards based on that outcome. And make it fun! Every 20-30 minutes in our own training programs, we switch to an interactive activity. People only pay attention when they enjoy what they're doing, and they only learn when they get involved. Knowledge is great, but it's not actionable. You actually have to get on the bike in order to ride it. Interactive activities are the best way to help people build momentum and apply new knowledge to their own experience. 

People say "it's like riding a bike" to refer to something they'll never forget, because once a skill is learned, it's yours forever. Learning to ride a bike isn't always easy, but it's a skill you'll have for a lifetime. If you focus your efforts on learning rather than training, your people will go far, and you'll go with them! 

Why People Matter

If you don't invest in your people, you can't bring out their full potential. And that's what an organization is really made up of, right? PEOPLE! You hire someone for their immediate impact as well as their potential contribution. Your real investment is in their future, and to see the greatest return, your people constantly have to be learning. Ongoing training can be valuable if done right. Engaging people in what you are doing and helping them learn new competencies is invaluable to growing an organization.

When old training programs don't deliver what is desired, our clients hire Aspire to ignite change and drive results. If you want to see your people learn new skills and grow your business, make sure to apply the principles I've outlined here. 

About Aspire Marketing

Aspire is a strategic training and consulting company that ignites change and drives results. We design the exact solutions companies need to stand out and awaken the potential of their organization. For 18 years now, over 1 million people have learned to think differently, challenge the status quo, and expect results. You know where you want to go. Aspire can help you get there. We do it by establishing competencies, filling gaps, and inspiring people to rise to their potential. If you're ready for real change, you're ready for Aspire.

Contact: Renie Cavallari

renie@aspiremarketing.com / 602.392.0700

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