How to make your learners enthusiastic

by Brett Henebery20 Jan 2017
Mark McPherson is a speaker, trainer and coach specialising in helping CEOs, managers, business owners, consultants and their staff get the best behaviour, communication and performance from people 
He recently spoke at the Learning & Development Masterclass held in Sydney on 30 November, presenting on how to help reluctant learners become enthusiastic.
In an interview with L&D Professional, McPherson explained what he sees as the most effective way for an organisation to do this.
“First, make it easy. Make it easy for the learner to attend programs or to otherwise 'receive' what is supposed to be learned – and make it easy for the learner to go over bits they didn't understand, ask questions, and so on,” he said. 
“Second, make it enjoyable. No matter what the format, learners need to enjoy the experience. If it means spending a little extra on really nice coffee and bubbly water, do it.”
Next, McPherson said organisations should make learning meaningful for their employees.
“Although some people love learning for the sheer sake of it, most people want to understand why they are being asked to learn something new and what the benefits will be,” he said.
“And fourth, make the program smart – not just nicely presented.”
He added that organisations should use research to make sure learners are able to not just achieve learning outcomes by the end of the program but are able to transfer what they've learned back to the real world where it counts.
In terms of what outcomes managers should ideally strive towards when rolling out an L&D program, McPherson said some reflection is needed.
“Other than the obvious things like making sure the administration issues, logistics and so on are all taken care of and the program runs smoothly, managers should ask themselves this: what do I really want to have the learners do, not just be able to do, when they return to the workplace, sporting field or wherever?” he said.
“If, for example, it's to process every online application they receive for whatever, using a new computer software program, to a certain degree of accuracy and within a certain time frame, then they should strive to make sure everything is geared towards achieving it.”
Looking ahead, McPherson said he continues to see “more and more terrific people” design and deliver programs with little or no formal training in the area.
“I also continue to hear more and more about programs needing to be delivered using the latest technology. However, I'm not convinced that using the latest technology necessarily produces the outcomes managers are striving to achieve,” he said. 
“The major challenge is to deliver programs that give the best results when learners return to the workplace, sporting field or wherever.”
However, he pointed out that these types of programs are “quite different to – and at times the opposite of – those most commonly and more traditionally delivered”.
“I sum it up in what I call The Learning and Development Dilemma: Should we go with what works best or go with what's popular? Sadly, too many go with what's popular,” he said.
The next Learning & Development Masterclass will be held in Melbourne on 6 April. Find out more and register here.