We all know what it’s like to sit in a training class when you don’t want to be there. You fidget, you check the time, you write a to-do list, and you check your email. So the question is, if you’re not motivated to learn, and instead direct your attention elsewhere, is the training valuable to the business? Is the organization getting a return on its investment in training? Probably not the return it had hoped for.
Motivation is especially important in the field of training and development because of the impact it has on learning and performance. Motivation gives direction and intensity to a person’s behavior, and provides the reasons why a person acts or behaves in a certain way. When compared to an unmotivated learner, a motivated learner is more focused toward achieving a goal, expends more energy and effort, and is more persistent.
While the study of motivation is much more robust than can be explained in this post, what’s important to recognize is that the design and implementation of training programs can have an impact on learners’ motivation to learner. In the end, this translates into an increase in the training’s business value.
In this post, I identify some basic principles to follow to improve learner motivation. They are grouped into two broad categories: (1) learning program, and (2) work environment. The first category focuses on basic rules related to the design and delivery of the learning program, and the second identifies factors associated with the work environment that will enhance learner motivation.
- The relevance of the program to learners’ job responsibilities and organizational priorities is established for the learners
- Benefits that will result from participating in the program are clearly explained and related directly to leaners’ interests
- Strategies are used at the beginning of the program to capture the learners’ attention and stimulate their interest
- The program is comprehensive enough for learners to learn the skills required to perform their jobs, while avoiding irrelevant material
- Learners are able to make choices during the program to make it more relevant to their specific needs and interests
- Learning activities provide challenges within learners’ reach, and don’t overwhelm them with goals and tasks that can’t be achieved
- A variety of stimulating and engaging learning activities are used throughout the program
- Learners are made to feel as though their success is a result of the effort they extend
- Learners are provided with opportunities to participate in the program on an equitable basis
- Humor is used frequently, but not at the expense of the learners
- Learners feel that the environment is safe, that is, they will not be subject to embarrassment, coercion, or a hostile or arrogant environment
- Learners are provided with opportunities to socialize, and feel comfortable and connected with other learners in the program
- Breaks and energizers are used, when required, to maintain learners’ energy levels
- The facilitator demonstrates enthusiasm and a positive attitude for the program being taught
- Learners believe their managers will value and encourage the use of the new knowledge and skills back on the job
- Learners believe they will have the time and resources required to support the use of their new competencies back on the job
- Learners believe they will be acknowledged appropriately for the effort they extend
- Learners believe the new knowledge and skills learned in the program will make their work easier, more interesting, more satisfying, or more rewarding
This post highlights basic principles associated with learner motivation and groups them into two categories. The first identifies basic rules that should be followed in the design and delivery of training programs to increase motivation. The second identifies factors in the work setting that will increase learners’ motivation to learn and improve performance.
Remember, motivated learners will be more focused toward achieving a goal, will expend more energy and effort, and be more persistent. Following the principles associated with learner motivation presented here will increase learners’ motivation and ultimately increase the training’s business value.