Frederick Herzberg, a pioneer in employee motivation, taught that an employee’s opportunity to learn, grow in responsibilities, and be recognized for achievements is a much more powerful motivator than just money. With increasing regulations in the mortgage industry and the stress associated with rapidly implementing the mandated changes, it is often difficult for employees to stay motivated. In fact, all the change can end up being very debilitating for employees as they restructure their work processes and procedures to meet regulatory and business deadlines. Designing innovative and motivational learning events can, however, be a powerful aid for employees, helping them to see their role in the company’s future. Corporate learning can guide them to optimize their performance, and ultimately enhance their satisfaction with the organization.
Successful learning inspires and motivates employees with three elements: Pre-learning, learning and post-learning. It starts with careful planning during the pre-learning phase. This entails a variety of factors, including an assessment of the needs of the organization. The learning event itself must be balanced and flexible enough to follow a predetermined plan, but at the same time it must be able to take advantage of “teachable moments” which arise spontaneously.
Post-training events are an essential component of successful learning. They reinforce the training and are important to provide continuing motivation and for further supporting the concepts presented in the learning event.
Enhancing motivation during the pre-learning event
The key to any effective initiative is a good strategy. In a sense, this means having all your “ducks in a row” before the learning event occurs so that learners can be actively involved in a meaningful educational experience.
The pre-learning event process begins with identifying the learning objectives. Any event provided by the organization, including training, must have relevant goals. One of the most frustrating, as well as de-motivating experiences for an associate, is to be involved in an initiative where learners do not know or understand the purpose. This leads to confusion and resentment when they are asked to spend time they could otherwise use getting their work done. Thus, making certain that each and every training event is meaningful, worthwhile, and appropriate to all of the learners is a top priority.
The next step is to select the most suitable learning vehicle to support the objective. Remember, the aim is to create an educational initiative that will motivate participation so the tools selected are critical. The event could employ a variety of different tools during training, or just one single tool. Finding the right mix of tools and making them easily accessible can inspire learners, promote the pursuit of knowledge, and increase the training's effectiveness.
Arguably the most important component in this strategic process is to be aware of the parameters of the initiative. One of the biggest mistakes educators make is that they forget or simply ignore legitimate constraints. These can include company guidelines, time restrictions, limitations on technology or educational vehicles, and remote participants. Failure to take these into account can be an error in judgment permanently impeding the motivation and pre-planning process. This can be demotivating.
A simple analogy can be helpful here. Suppose a person takes on the challenge of assembling a 1,000 piece jigsaw puzzle. But, in the excitement of the moment, they fail to realize that there is far too little time for a project of this scope nor is there room to even layout the pieces. It will not be long before the excitement and motivation wanes. Overreaching is almost always demotivating.
Enhancing motivation during the learning event
One key to inspiring motivation and delivering a successful learning initiative is to trust your preparation and follow the plan. Flexibility is important, as is identifying the spontaneous teaching moments. But sticking to the plan and not getting seriously sidetracked is going to go a long way in motivating your learners. Remember that you spent a good amount of time during the pre-learning event identifying the key objectives and planned accordingly. In the midst of the actual learning event, assessing how motivated your learners are (especially for remote learners), is very important and a few tweaks to the plan are fine. But, overall the instructors need to trust the strategies that were chosen.
Another method of enhancing motivation in the learning event is to use as many of the engagement and interactivity tools as you have available. Almost every training vehicle has interactivity tools which are available to maximize both engagement and motivation. Whether you are taking advantage of WebEx features such as polling or chat, using gamification features in an e-learning course, or presenting your "stand-up" facilitation session energetically, these individual engagement tools are invaluable in initiating and maintaining maximum learner motivation.
A good rule of thumb regarding the heightening of motivation during the learning event is to balance information and activity. Keep in mind that even though pure information is extremely valuable and a significant part of the learning event process, it is not the part of the training which always promotes maximum engagement. The activity portion is the part which generally does that best, and the key to any activity is the effective use of the appropriate motivational tools.
Enhancing motivation during the post-learning event
In order to keep employees motivated and to measure the value of the training event, there must be follow-up activities and tools to reinforce the learning. Sometimes it is not easy to measure effectiveness. For example, diversity training is more difficult to measure than skills based training. However, if learning is aligned with business needs and applicable tools are used, companies can calculate their return on the training investment.
The place to start your post-training event is with a participant survey evaluating the learners’ first impressions and helping to identify ways to improve the event. Companies need to provide an anonymous method for participants to submit their opinions on the presenter, material, timing, methodology, and perceived effectiveness or utilization of the training. Survey results need to be quantified and reported to management.
Making learning available anytime and anywhere is a critical way to reinforce the specific learning and keep employees motivated. One approach is to provide the course content online for participants to reference. Video recording a classroom session is another effective method. E-learning approaches continue to mature and many companies use podcasts, learning in motion, or blogs to share information and support on-going learning.
Skills-based training should include tools such as job aides that employees can use in their day-to-day functions, allowing them to practice the skills they have learned. Monitoring employees’ performance with the use of assessments done at various intervals after training is a good way to measure the effectiveness of the training event, as well.
One-on-one mentoring sessions are also important to reinforce learning events. They help to keep employees motivated because mentoring demonstrates a company’s commitment to an employee’s development and success.
Training is an investment
Learning events that are carefully designed to be meaningful, worthwhile and appropriate will have many benefits for your company and employees. Greater motivation will lead to an increase in productivity and a reduction in staff turnover.
The best types of events take into account that people have different learning styles. Some employees learn best by listening, some by seeing and others by experiencing, but most learn best through a combination of these styles. Learning events and post-training activities that combine these styles to be engaging and interactive will yield more motivated associates and a high rate of return on the company’s learning investments.
Judy Wheatley is senior vice president of compliance for Indecomm Global Services. Judy received her Certified Mortgage Banker (CMB) designation in 2003, and her Accredited Residential Underwriter designation in 1993. She may be reached by e-mail at [email protected]
John C. Cunningham holds the position of education coordinator of the Lenders Solution Group for Indecomm Global Services. John is also a Results Coach, having received his training at Coach U. He may be reached by e-mail at [email protected]