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Gamify That Training Process

Gamify That Training Process

After reading my colleague – coconspirator and PIC mate, Janine Truitt’s article “Building Training Programs for Effective Learning and Development” I was inspired. You see in my practitioner days my major responsibility was training and development. I loved it. I got a buzz out of making the old process new, better and more efficient. When I got started in Training, we had very high turnover within the 12 week training process.  High like Snoop and Willie Nelson, I’m talking 90%. Yeah, if we hired 30 people, we would graduate 3 or 4.  It was awful. And notice I said 12 weeks of training –  now unless you are working for NASA you probably can cut that down a bit. And the materials were old, outdated, ill relevant and stale – like bread left out in the open stale. It was so bad that the previous trainer before me quit in the middle of a training class.

How did I turn it around? Once I accepted the job, the first thing I did was throw out the old material. I spent an entire week creating new training modules, tests and practice examples. I used Photoshop, PageMaker, PowerPoint and Word to redesign it all. We saved a ton of money. Then I developed some games to play because learning should be fun. You can’t teach adult workers as if they are children in a classroom but everyone likes to compete. You’ve  got to make training interactive, informative and fun. Needless to say, I didn’t have IPADs, Tablets, or state of the art technology. I had to use flash cards, buzzers, dry erase boards, flip charts and ACD projectors.  So now, I pay close attention to the new gadgets and apps of today because if I were training – I’d gamify a lot of it.

Gamification is everywhere

I first heard the term “gamification” 2 years ago and basically it means to make a game out of your process. You can gamify knowledge base content; you can gamify rewards/recognition systems and of course training programs. Actually, you’ve probably already used gamifying principles in your office now. If not, you should strongly consider it. Think about it – other than sexting, why do most people use their mobile phones? It’s not for voice conversations – its texting, music and games. A couple of years ago it was “Words with Friends” and “Angry Birds” and now it’s “Candy Crush.”

Games take our minds off of the things for a while – its escapism and challenging. Some studies show that games also increase certain cognitive skills and brain activity. Don’t believe me? Read this article on Health Host, “How Games Can Improve Your Cognitive Abilities”. So instead of standing in the front of the room with your hands in front of your genitals, (the fig leaf pose) going on and on; try to make your training less lecture based and more inactive. Think of a way to gamify it. There are a ton of games you can use within your training process. Everyone is playing games; Late Nite with Jimmy Fallon, he plays games with his guests every night. On the Today Show, they play games with home audience and the crowd in the plaza.  Just pay attention and be creative – you can do it.

And just an FYI – After I took over the training and development process, instead of only graduating 3 out of 30, we graduated 27 out of 30. Yeah – we would lose 10% or less and that was because we had to fire some folks for various performance or conduct issues. I trimmed the classroom time down from 12 weeks to about 4- 6 weeks. We played lots of learning games, a favorite was Jeopardy!. The training material was so much better that incumbents wanted updated copies to use as reference material.  I had to create a web-based knowledge management system. Ladies and gentlemen, that’s still valuable today…class dismissed and you’re welcome.

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