The PRIME Method: What Makes Training Effective and Memorable

There have been unending discussions among trainers from various industries as to what really makes training effective.  If one would ask different learning and development practitioners, he can be very sure that he will get different perspectives and recommendations about what works and what does not.

In my years of training, this has always been one of my researches.  I have always been interested about discovering how to not only please trainees or make them enjoy being in training but also how to bridge the gap between learning and application.  This has led me to asking myself a lot of questions and to always putting myself in the shoes of many kinds of participants to be able to determine how each person with unique learning preferences and personalities learns best.

One major aspect, really, that helped me put together the five most significant factors of making training effective and becoming an equally-effective trainer would be observing not only what I can see on the outside among the trainees in terms of their behaviors but even how they respond to questions and statements and the obvious results that they show during measurement and evaluation.

So, on this article, allow me to share with you five workable essentials of making your training for your participants effective and something that they will cherish for a long time too.

I introduce PRIME, which is a mnemonic that stands for Practicality, Reinforcement, Interaction, Motivation, and Enjoyment.

P FOR PRACTICALITY

The Free Dictionary defines practicality as concerned with actual use rather than theoretical possibilities.

Training that is practical and practicable is the best training there is. I have proven that several times.  Most of the other training programs that I have seen and experienced myself focus too much on or spend excessive time with the content and the theories.  The result is, instead of paying more attention to being able to apply the knowledge, the most part of the training agenda becomes dragging lectures and boring discussions.

This is not to say though that providing knowledge by lectures and discussions is not important.  Knowledge is a must-have, that is for sure.  It is the first requisite that each trainee must obtain before being able to apply anything at all.  However, a training that commits more time to overwhelming trainees with too much information is suffocating. Instead of the trainees remembering what they should put into practice as they transition to actual production, nothing sinks in because they are bombarded with too much to handle.

This is not also to say, however, that training should have more of applications than discussions.  A training in which participants are not given a solid foundation they can operate on is poor and does not lead to the desired results or learning goals.

Instead, training should make knowing and doing or applying dependent on each other.  When something is known or learned, it has to be applied or tried out right away.  Trainees have to experiment on and find out their individual working styles. They should be given sufficient time to apply and adjust to the new knowledge and skills acquired.  Just the same, when the application lacks the basics or is done incorrectly, then the knowledge must be revisited to ensure that it was taught correctly and it was understood accurately.

Therefore, instructional programs should be designed based on a collaboration between knowing and doing.  It is knowing that make people be oriented about several things and of course, it is in doing or applying that they test out whether what they learned will work or not.

R FOR REINFORCEMENT

Reinforcement means rewarding or correcting trainees and their behaviors, personalities, and performance; whichever is applicable and necessary.

Training that reinforces is one that will not only be appreciated and will make trainees think highly of themselves all the time but from which their truest potential would really come out and by which their imperfections would be fixed and strengthened.

In designing and developing curricula, ample time for coaching every time a topic is discussed or a skill is cultivated must be put in place so learners frequently know where they are at and what they still need to work on and polish at any point during the training.

Similarly, rewarding trainees every time they answer questions correctly, they participate in class, they perfect quizzes, they win in games, and they follow instructions to the letter develops positive individuals who work harder and who prove themselves more in order to get commendations and recognitions.

Therefore, trainers should integrate giving away prizes or simply praising them/giving them a pat on the back each time they do something well or they say something right.  This does not only make them confident.  This gives them the extra push to always show their best in training.

I FOR INTERACTION

Training where the facilitator interacts with his trainees and the latter do the same among one another aids in learning and fast at that.  There should be more asking and answering questions.  There should be more discourses about the topics.  There should be more opportunities in which trainees get to clarify confusing points.  There should be more activities in which they collaborate with and consult with fellow trainees to know what they do not that others do and understand what others do that they do not.

When trainees speak more than they listen or when the trainer at least strikes a balance between both, the former are put in a situation where they discover more and they bridge the gap between understanding and transfer of learning by themselves.

With this, designs should be anchored on a quality number of fora, discussion groups, teachbacks, etc. There should be sessions where the trainees learn more from one another and more importantly where they can check for understanding.

M FOR MOTIVATION

Different trainees have different levels of tolerance for setbacks and diverse attitudinal tendencies. It is because of this that motivation or activities that motivate and inspire should be incorporated in training programs.

Even though I understand that motivation can be done anytime when it is highly-needed, it is still a far cry from when it is an actual part of the training outline.

Motivation is something that you do not only say but you also show and instill in their minds as well.  Games and icebreakers in between help keep the trainees on their toes and focused especially when they are losing interest or they are getting bored.  Trainers’ effectiveness and skills are measured by how long and how much they are able to make their audience pay attention to them and enjoy listening to what they say. When it is not the case, there is something wrong. They would just end up getting distracted or being preoccupied with something else

In the same vein, daily counseling sessions; while they are not a must; help make sure that nobody is being left behind or that nobody is losing focus or coming short of expectations for personal reasons outside of the four corners of the room. Trainers are also responsible in ensuring that his trainees do not bring personal problems to work at home and vice versa.

Thus, instructional designs should make room for moments when the trainer should give each of his trainees the chance to share what their problems are and if they have issues with them, the training, the environment, the people around them, and the like.

E FOR ENJOYMENT

The last piece of the puzzle that will surely make training effective and memorable is enjoyment.  For as long as trainees are having fun in class, they always have the peace of mind and the enthusiasm to absorb as much as they can and stay in training from start to finish.

Apart from games and icebreakers, training that makes learners loosen up and enjoy most of the time leads to better results and higher learning retention. A trainer who is not too formal and stiff and who cracks jokes in the right situation at the proper time entertains his audience more and makes them want to learn more as well.  Situations like this dispel boredom, monotony and discourage people from attriting as well.

Ergo, training should be made fun and interesting all the time with activities that allow them to have a break from the formalities of training and appreciate their experiences.

Hopefully, my PRIME method would help the readers, especially trainers; teachers; and instructional designers, formulate and devise the best and the most flexible training program, which trainees will not only learn a lot from but will also enjoy being a part of.

Until the next blog.  For now, BE EQUIPPED! 🙂

The Critical Mistakes Recruiters in the Philippines Commit When Reviewing a Resume

Actually, it is a gamble to even touch on this topic.  I am pretty sure that the guilty ones would react negatively to this article and might start emailing me or post hate comments here and there the moment they see this.  However, if the facts that I am going to discuss here are not going to be brought out in the open now, then when?  Who will?  The only intention of even talking about this is to correct how some recruiters in different companies nowadays think.  It is to put a stop to some of the not-so-good practices that they (once again, just some of them and I am not generalizing) have been doing that often lead to the right people being set aside and the wrong/undeserving ones being hired instead. This, in turn, results to the company getting the wrong people to work for them and the organization taking a nasty hit because of such a wrong move in the form of attrition and all that.

So, what are some of the critical mistakes that recruiters/headhunters commit when they are going over applications?  They better know them so they are more guided in terms of selecting the best people to work for the company.  Read on.

1.  The school a candidate went to is a big deal.

Resume 1

Well, I am not going to say that more often than not, when an applicant did not go to the country’s most famous universities or colleges; he is not going to be hired anymore.  No.  What I am going to elaborate on here is the fact that when one did not come from such, he is taking a backseat, he is not considered right off the bat, or there are usually second thoughts.  Worse is, the application is put under those who are representing a better/more famous school to just be reviewed at a later time amongst the piles of resumes.  This is often true for non-entry level jobs or leadership positions.  In fact, even for entry-level vacancies or rank-and-file designations, those who went to the “A-listers” get the recruiters’ attention first.  Even in some cases, fresh graduates who came from these universities can get managerial/supervisory positions right away.  Yes.  You are seeing this right.  They have no experiences working as professionals yet but they are already hired for leadership positions in some companies just because they came from these schools.  Whether they have connections or not is a different story though.  This probably explains why, in some cases, a lot of executives nowadays are from these universities.  Okay.  They must just be plainly competent, diligent, impressive, productive, innovative, and fast-learning but there is no denying that getting a managerial/officer/supervisory position early in their career, like upon graduating or just a few months in the company, might have facilitated their early climb up the corporate ladder to become Senior Managers, Vice Presidents, or higher.

But, how come some recruiters/employers have this mindset to begin with?  The answer is simple.  This has something to do with the analysis/thinking that when a candidate came from the country’s top universities/colleges (where it is not really a walk in the park to get into in the first place), then it is already an assurance that the person is very competent and smart, which is wrong.  While this is frequently true, it is not the case every time.  There are even times that some of those who graduated from these top schools are the ones who are giving any company a headache.  This is because although they have impressive knowledge and skills, their attitude is sometimes unmanageable and intolerable (smart alecks).

They have to consider that not all of the best high school students in the Philippines (the valedictorians, salutatorians, etc) ended up studying in these so-called “top universities”.  The point is not all of the brightest students in the country can be found with them.  There are some who might have the following cases below:

  1. It is either they were not able to take the entrance examinations there for some reason or they really chose not to take them at all.
  2. They could not afford the tuition and other accompanying fees that come with studying in the country’s most prestigious private institutions because they were not able to get a scholarship somewhere or whatnot.  This is true for those intelligent graduates who came from impoverished or middle-class families but failed or just were not able due to take advantage of scholarship offers/financial assistance due to one stumbling block or another.
  3. They want to prove that even if they would not come out of a famous school, they can go somewhere in the business fields or move up the ranks in any company they end up working for.

Therefore, the school a candidate came from must not be the primary basis or worse, the sole reference for hiring an employee for an entry-level job or even for supervisory positions.  The school one came from should not be a big deal.  What is more important to take note of  and factor in are the following:

1. If the candidate has a student/youth leadership experience or exposure (for entry-level positions and even for officer/supervisory levels).

What is in it for the employer?  What does this tell the recruiter?  A candidate possessing this track record means that the he has the potential to be a great leader in the corporate world someday.  He already did and proved that in college and most likely, with guidance; development; and support, he can do and prove it again in the real world.

2.  If the candidate has an excellent scholastic record.

While it is not always an assurance that a Summa Cum Laude, a Magna Cum Laude, or a Cum Laude graduate will do well or will carry on with his excellence as a professional; it is safe to assume that he will.  This is because after all, he would not get there if he was not industrious, determined, persevered, competent, competitive and positive-minded to begin with.  Although there are cases of some students just fawning over or pleasing their advisers in order to graduate with honors, it is usually tried and tested that they can continue with the same level of performance and diligence even beyond college.

3.  If the candidate’s working experiences match the needs/requirements of the position.

There is no need to explain this further.  Of course, you cannot hire a person as an accountant when he graduated with an engineering course.  Can you?  It is as basic as that.

4.  And, a person’s answers.

Although there are some people who are just good at sweet-talking or who simply excel in pleasing people, a candidate’s answers should still not be dismissed. One’s answers and how he answers determine what he is capable of doing or how he thinks.  Also, body languages and facial expressions are indicators of how sincere and committed one is to the job and are oftentimes representative of his attitude.  So, a recruiter should make sure to listen attentively to how her candidates field questions.  Their answers, without a doubt, substantiate whether they are qualified or not.

2.  A candidate’s school/community/sub-professional leadership experiences should not be counted as supervisory/managerial experiences.

Resume 2

This mentality is wrong.  In the States, people there can already start working as soon as they graduate from high school, which means enrolling in college is optional.  They only go to college if they like to, if they want to learn more because they feel under-equipped, if they need to specialize in any field of study, or if they desire to apply for leadership positions but it is not a prerequisite.  So, how does this relate to our topic?  Here in the country, students must go to college and finish it before they could apply as professionals (probably except in the call center industry or technical/vocational jobs) with most companies.  That only means that graduating from college is already impressive.  More so, if the candidates did not just graduate from college as regular students but also had a leadership background inside and outside of their schools.  Does this make sense?

Furthermore, it is much more impressive when candidates were a student leader back in college especially when we are talking about multiple affiliations.  It speaks a lot about how good they are with multitasking, task delegating, and mobilizing people.  Ponder on this.  Everyone knows how challenging it is to make volunteers and members follow orders or finish tasks especially when they are not really compensated for their efforts.  Right?  They do not get anything in return, money-wise.  They do not even enjoy the benefits (HMO, etc.) that come with a paid professional.  Also, multitasking is not easy to do since they already have their organizations to think of plus they have their studies to attend to as well.

Here is the thing.  What is wrong nowadays is even if a person’s experience in his line of work is impressive and is highlighted by his milestones, contributions and tenure in the profession and despite having leadership experiences back in college, his application just ends up being scrapped just because he has not been a supervisor/manager since graduating yet.

Ergo, undergraduate leadership experiences in school and in the community should have a bearing on a person’s chance to get even supervisory positions.  Recruiters should not hesitate to hire people who have no leadership background since graduating but have proved themselves by exceeding expectations and contributing a lot of great things to the previous companies that they had served and had a quality leadership exposure back in college.  There are times that the reasons for not getting promoted to a supervisory level with their previous companies would be not be good like office politics, they were ganged up on, the company did not really have opportunities for moving up at the time when they were with them, or the bosses they had worked for just did not know how to develop people or did not develop them at all.

3.  A person who does not have any experience leading people as a professional yet is already out for a leadership position even if they have an impressive resume in terms of contributions and even if they have a potential on paper and during interviews.

Resume 3

This will fall along the same line of justifications as the previous item.  But just to add, I find this as an unfair treatment and as an oversight of a lot of aspects.  First, there are some people who might have zero background supervising people in the corporate world but have a very extensive and no-nonsense leadership immersion back in college (read through the previous item for a detailed explanation regarding this).  Secondly, there are those who, as much as they desired it, wanted to go up the ladder because they fully deserved it but could not or were not able to for one of the following reasons:

  1. They did not have an okay relationship with their immediate supervisor because they were not seeing eye to eye most of the time, the supervisor is insecure because they are too good or better, the person just does not like them one reason or another, or the person is just too difficult to work with.
  2. Their supervisor was too busy with a lot of things that employee development was set aside for their entire tenure with the company.
  3. Their supervisor does not know how to develop people or lacks the assertiveness to recommend them to the higher-ups for a well-deserved promotion.
  4. The supervisor was favoring somebody else at that time or was more focused on those who fawn over him/her (pleasers).
  5. There weren’t any leadership vacancies at all and it was taking them forever so they just quit instead.
  6. Or, they might be deserving but they lack the assertiveness or the aggressiveness to demand for their promotions or to make their pitches to/with the decision-makers.

So, when a recruiter goes over an applicant’s curriculum vitae (particularly for a leadership opening), she might want to consider the following aspects as well:

1. First and foremost would be the individual’s leadership potential which can be confirmed/seen from the factors below:

  • Leadership involvements and awards back in college;
  • Leadership trainings attended;
  • Feedback about or recommendation for the person’s readiness, capacity and qualification to supervise people coming from their previous supervisors and other reliable sources;
  • Based on the applicant’s answers, which (again) are very indicative of what they can possibly do;
  • Successful projects initiated, led or assigned to.

2. Level of performance with their previous companies

  • Standards exceeded;
  • Expectations met or over-delivered
  • Outstanding performance scores/metrics;
  • Processes improved/corrected;
  • Contributions that led to increase in revenues and manpower, achievement of local and international certifications, and better workplace relationships

3. And of course, whether the candidate has the attitude of a leader or not.

So, these are the critical mistakes that SOME recruiters in SOME companies nowadays commit.  Now, if they do not want to get the wrong people for the company they are hiring people for and end up regretting getting them for the job, then I do not think it will do them any harm to take these into consideration and to reevaluate their people selection standards to think of incorporating these aspects.

Also, just to be fair, we acknowledge the fact that for top-level manager/executive positions, it is not ideal to be hiring someone who does not have a solid track record in managing employees at such high levels.  That is a difference case altogether.  Nevertheless and without a doubt, the guidelines aforementioned can supplant absence of any supervisory/managerial experiences for as long as the position is just for an officer/supervisor/first-level manager position.

Be equipped!