"So what is your secret for retaining what you learn during workshop sessions?”- I casually popped this question to some of my colleagues over a conversation around sustainable learning programs. What followed was an interesting discussion with a "mash-up" of tips and suggestions from 2 groups of participants- One, who gave a learner’s perspective and the other who chose to speak as themselves; the facilitators. I bring excerpts from this interesting discussion for you, in the form of 8 quick tips.# Tip 1: Link It To Your Existing KnowledgeSagar, 30, is a product development manager at enParadigm and known for his nerdiness. He never loses an opportunity to get better at coding.
# Tip 2: Be Explorative. Find Out New Opportunities to Apply LearningVinod, 25 yrs, is also a solutions consultant and regularly attends meet-ups and programs on self-development. His suggestion:
“ The first thing I do after a program is to find out where all I can apply it. I get started. Not that I know how far I am going to be good at it, but that doesn’t stop me from taking a baby step.The next thing that I do is explore where else I could apply what I learnt, because I am sure there will be always be scenarios which could be handled better. For example, after Arun’s ( one of the founding partners) session on driving relevant conversation during client meeting, I try and implement some points during initial phone calls with prospective clients as well.”
# Tip 3: Make Notes For The FutureDev, 25 yrs, is a solutions Consultant and attends a range of skill development as well as leadership programs. This is what he had to say:
“I have a habit of referring to notes at later stage. I found that they were not comprehensible after a few months. Probably because some concepts begin to fade away. To avoid this, I make notes for future reference. I add examples, tips and special mentions along with highlights of the session, so that there is better recall. I also jot down real time thoughts that I get during the program around - where I could apply a particular learning at work. I keep the left side ( like a margin) of each page for highlights and action items if any. Later, I compile it all for a things-to-do list to be implemented soon after”.
# Tip 4: Practice Till You PerfectLubna, 27 yrs, is a client success manager and is more of an on the job learner, who takes feedback of how she can be better in her work, very seriously.
“I have made it a practice to practice . Once I have learnt something new, I try not to repeat past mistakes. I may not get good at it immediately, but I make sure I don’t drop out of it. In the beginning, I was not careful about rules for punctuation, but I relentlessly practiced how to get good at it. Today I can spot errors in emails and can prompt my team about it.”
Joining us in the discussion, we had Hanuman who heads Labs, with Suhas and Aditya who wear two hats at enParadigm- Product Development and Facilitation.“ You have engaged with so many L&D Leaders. Tell me from their standpoint, how do you think learning could be made sustainable for a longer period? “#Tip 5: Actionable Learning is Key.
Suhas says,“It is important that facilitators help participants make actions items based on what they learnt during a program by using the SMART ( Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Realistic and Time-bound) framework. If the action items are sharp enough, they also get easy buy-in from their managers who have to play a major role in their implementation journey. This way, the learning gets applied”
# Tip 6: Refresher Modules for Retaining Key Take-Aways
Aditya adds, "We have seen that implementation level goes up when participants go through refresher programs or retention modules, at periodical intervals after they attend the program, till they have started implementing it comfortably at work. For example, Hafele ( one of our clients) was initially reluctant to push participants for completing online retention modules, since it meant extra time. However after going through it, the participants felt that it really improved their understanding on key takeaways and would like to receive more periodical modules like these.”
# Tip 7: Simple,Relevant, Interesting Messages After The Program.Finally, it was Hanuman who had the last word, literally.
“ I think when it comes to learning programs, the closer the key takeaways are to a participant’s real work challenges, the better they are retained. Distant or abstract concepts get easily pushed back down memory lane. Similarly, keeping the content (meant for reinforcing the learning) simple- makes it easy to remember. You could send the same message in different formats and channels. For example, sending key takeaways over email once a month did not work for us. They used to get pushed back in the participants' list of pending mails. Pin-up content in the form of infographic or a what-to-do-next list gets consumed easily. So you could share them on social media or hand out smart printed cut-outs.
So what's your secret to grow your learning? Do share it with our readers here.