Nothing can quite disengage me as much as being forced to complete a task, when I can’t see the point of it in the first place.
That’s how I used to feel when I had to wake up early on a Saturday for the dreaded “Spring Clean”. Two things used to bother me about this. Firstly, it was just as likely to happen in November as in April. And secondly, I couldn’t, at the tender age of 7, see the benefit in it for me. Why was I cleaning when I could’ve been playing football, riding my BMX or better still playing even more football?
That’s how I think most people feel about compliance training. Even the word itself removes choice from the equation.
So how then do you engage learners from the outset and throughout? How do you influence a learner to choose to be impacted?
Enter Dale Carnegie. Not literally Dale Carnegie, but his book “How to Win Friends and Influence People”. The book sets out a framework for people to become better influencers in their workplaces, schools and homes. But why is this relevant?
Ultimately elearning should challenge behaviours and cause learners to want to modify that behaviour. Carnegie’s tips provide insight into how we should shape and create long lasting behaviour change, or how to turn 40 minutes of learning into 40 weeks of action. Here are four pointers that he believes in:
1. “Make the other person happy about doing the thing you suggest”
Carnegie mentions that this is one of the most important rules in human relationships. Can we get people happy to complete compliance courses when generally we don’t enjoy what we feel coerced to complete? I think we can if we veer away from traditional compliance elearning that instructs rather than has a conversation with the learner, and piques their interest by making the subject less about compliance and more about performance. One way we achieve this is by embedding a diagnostics tool within a course. This lets learners honestly evaluate their current performance. The course can then build on this realisation by encouraging them to improve and offering the opportunity to build a personalised action plan of how to cement the improvement.
2.“Praise every improvement”
Dale says that praising even the slightest improvement will spur people on to success. We use performance indicators such as badges, star ratings and dials to encourage learners by generating a sense of excitement and curiosity. Humans are naturally wired to want to achieve: we desire the feeling of attainment, whether that is matched against previous iterations of our efforts or against our peers. The opportunity to gain rewards for improvement will also create the added benefit of replayability, by encouraging learners to return to previous sections in an attempt to unlock badges and to increase their score.
3.“Ask questions instead of giving direct orders”
Generally in compliance elearning you are dealing with hard facts: rights and wrongs which require strict adherence. Often the learner is spoon-fed information which they regurgitate in the form of a test, and voilà, learning objectives are achieved! But consequences that seem far removed from our daily realities can be hard to contextualise. Learners engage with what they can relate to. Learning interactions should throw the learner into relatable scenarios which fit with the learners’ day to day role.
Saffron’s test then tell methodology asks what the learner already knows, using that knowledge as an indication of where they currently are and to encourage reflection on what they themselves would do in such a situation. If the aim is to change behaviour, what better way is there than to plunge the learner in the situation and see how they fare?
4. “Use encouragement. Make the fault seem easy to correct”
Answering questions and receiving feedback are often seen as the most important components of elearning because it establishes whether a transfer of knowledge has occurred. But how something is relayed affects whether or not we take it on board. Supportive or corrective feedback will reinforce the learning point, but positive reinforcement will encourage the learner to strive to do better. Care needs to be taken, however, not to patronise the learner!
The success of compliance elearning is only limited by our objectives, level of creativity and level of engagement with the topic as it affects day to day performance. If our objective is to “sheep dip” learners through training, naturally the course will lack the creativity needed to engage learners. Ultimately the focus should be on delivering lasting change which can only be done by enabling people to perform better in practice. Make the course useful and positive, and you will engage your audience.
Dale signs off his book saying “Learning is an active process. We learn by doing. So, if you desire to master the principles you are studying in this book, do something about them”. Similarly, then, why not do something after reading this blog by signing up to our webinar?
Together with one of our partners, Coca-Cola Hellenic, we’ll explain how to evolve from “compliance” elearning to game-changing digital performance tools. Places on the webinar are limited, so book now!