Staying Ahead of the Curve—the Challenges of Teaching Adults


LearningCurve.jpgI’m the new guy here at Policy Works. As the new guy, I know first-hand what it’s like to be on a gargantuan learning curve. That means I can identify with brokers who’re taking Policy Works training or attending training in the future. Sometimes it feels like there’s too much to learn with too little time to learn it.

Luckily, we’re adults and research shows that adults learn at a different pace than children. In addition, school—whether it be high school, college or university was a long time ago and we’re kind of rusty with the learning and homework stuff. We have several obstacles to overcome even before our training day begins. Despite this, we have no reason not to register for training.

If you’re the person that’s in charge of scheduling training at your brokerage; you possess the cat herding skills needed to get everyone trained in a timely fashion and we’re grateful. But, before you book that onsite day or register employees for on-demand training, take the following adult learning fundamentals into consideration.

1. Adults must have a reason to learn.

Sending an email invitation to add training to someone’s calendar without explanation is a recipe for disaster. Make sure each participant knows in advance:

  • Who is eligible for training?
  • What is the training for (what is the objective)?
  • Where it is talking place, is travel involved?
  • When it is taking place (dates and times)?
  • Why is the brokerage making this change?

2. Adults must be involved in learning.

Listening to someone lecture for three hours nonstop can make even the best of us restless and bored. The amount of information retained in this learning environment is minimal. Make sure your training provides opportunities for participants to develop or discuss the criteria. This makes them feel included and invested in the process.

3. Adults prefer a casual environment.

Encourage and promote getting acquainted and socializing early in the training process. Adults learn better when they feel comfortable and at ease with the other participants.

4. Adults learn in different ways and at different rates.

Identify strengths and weaknesses before registering participants, especially if it’s onsite training. For example, there’s the walking-insurance-encyclopedia employee with minimal computer skills. Then there’s the keyboard wizard with extraordinary computer skills but is inexperienced when it comes to commercial lines and workflows.

Try to enrol employees with similar skill sets in the same session whenever possible. This keeps the pace of training on track. You’ll avoid participants getting frustrated or lose interest because the training pace is too fast or too slow.

One of the things that keeps me ahead of the curve when it comes to all things Policy Works, is the phenomenal knowledge of its employees. They’re more than happy to share their expertise with me and with you too. That’s why I encourage you to download our free eBook, ROI is in the Implementation, by Susanna Fraser-Kuipers and Nancy Franchini. In it, they discuss software implementation best practices and how training staff plays a critical role in that process.

The truth is, most employees want to learn, but they dislike training events that waste their time. The same applies to trainers that don’t want to waste their time teaching people not interested in learning.

Sorry, I’d love to discuss this more, but I don’t want to be late for my next webinar (the curve continues).

Topics: Implementation, Training