At Seattle-based Verity Credit Union, manager buy-in to the training process is key to learning success and employee engagement, says Training and Development Manager Justin Martin. Before employees are sent to training, their managers are sent a series of questions for them and their staffers on what they want the course to accomplish. "It's something they can forward to us, so we can get an idea [of their learning goals] before people are in the training," says Martin. "Retention-wise, when people go in with specific goals and that expectation from their manager, they're more likely to be engaged in the training."
Include prework in any course you put together, Martin advises. Requiring employees to learn the basics of what you're about to teach them gives them the information they need to participate in class discussion and ask better questions. If it's a team-building class, employees may be required to arrive with three team-building ideas. The prework to a leadership course might be for learners to write a paragraph on the best leader they've ever had.
Also, don't forget the layout of the classroom, which can be an important part of instructional design. "When possible, we try to have our rooms set up in different ways, depending on the training, so people are seeing something different. It's not just classroom style, or the same setup as the last training they went to," says Martin. "In some training, we even try to get rid of the tables altogether so there's a lot of movement going on."