Training Aids: Often Overlooked, Effective Way to Get Much More From Your Training

You are investing a lot of time and money in training. But do your trainees actually use what you taught them?

That is a troubling question that training professionals and other experts have tried to answer over the years. As long ago as 1885, a German Psychologist named Hermann Ebbinghaus studied how long people remember information they have learned. He plotted his findings on a “forgetting curve” that showed that after only one day, people forget as much as 50% of what they learned the day before. A week later, they have forgotten 90%. If that retention rate is accurate, it means that much of the money we invest on training is not well spent.

Today, training professionals wrestle with this question too. Most of us know too well that if trainees decide that a training concept is not useful, they stop using it – or don’t even try it once. And then there is the fact that a lot of training programs present more information than learners can possibly retain. They need help to use what they learned.

Enter Training Aids

Training aids offer one of the most cost-effective, simple-to-use ways to get people to both remember and use what you taught them. Do you know what training aids are? They are simple reminders, often signs or laminated cards, that remind people to use specific skills, concepts or techniques that they learned.

Perhaps the most common training aids are signs in restaurant washrooms that say, “All Employees Must Wash their Hands Before Returning to Work.” Other common examples are signs that are posted behind fast food cash registers that deliver messages to cashiers like, “Remember to ask customers if they would like French fries.” A similar one could be a sign, posted on phones, that says, “Remember to smile before you answer the phone.” Another could be a recipe for a customer’s favorite drink that is posted where your beverage servers can see it; when that customer arrives, those servers know exactly what he or she likes most and how to prepare it.

Those training aids are not expensive to create and deliver, but they can have an outsize impact on performance and the bottom line.

Some Effective Ways to Use Training Aids

Point of sale procedures and shortcuts –  A small sign that explains them, posted on your registers or wherever sales documentation is completed, can reinforce steps that you taught during training and improve both employee performance and customer satisfaction.

Ongoing reminders of “must to know” safety and other concepts – One example. Even though you have already trained your restaurant personnel to use correct protocols to clean food-preparation areas, it is wise to post instructions that remind your employees of the correct procedures to follow.

Recipes and instructions for preparing beverages and foods – Posted instructions can go a long way toward improving the quality and consistency of your products and the speed of delivery.

Daily close-out procedures – What steps should your personnel follow at the close of business every day? A well-placed training aid makes required procedures easier for your employees to follow and reduces errors.

Motivational messages – You probably got your trainees fired up and energized during training. But do they stay that way during the weeks and months after training has ended? Posting some motivational messages – or texting them to employees’ smartphones – can keep them enthusiastic and engaged.

So, How Effective Are Training Aids?

After reading this article, I hope you will think about them in new ways and agree that they are powerful, like David in the famous Bible story of David and Goliath. They are little, but they pack the power to slay giants.

Cordell Riley is military veteran and Partner and President of Tortal Training, a leading training development company in Charlotte, North Carolina. After his time in college and the military, Cordell launched his career at Driven Brands, the owner of Meineke and Maaco. During his 20 years there, he rose through the ranks with increasing levels of responsibility for Operations and Training. He then founded Tortal Training, in 2000. A recognized training expert with extensive experience in the franchising sectors, Cordell has spent more than 20 years helping thousands of companies achieve outstanding success through training. He is a sought-after keynote speaker who addresses conferences and company seminars nationwide. Follow @TortalTraining.

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