Effective training – where the learner gains the specifics needed to demonstrate the change needed to be successful on the job – is the product of careful design.
The basics of good design in ADDIE are Analysis, Design, Development, Implementation, and Evaluation with an understanding that it’s an iterative cycle. This post focuses on Analysis, specifically Audience Analysis, with implications that impact the balance of the process.
Defining Your Audience
Usually, the brush used to identify an audience is broad – salespersons, clerks, supervisors, leaders, customer service, nurses, machinists, administrators, and on, and on. And, if the audience is broadly dispersed, the issues of language or culture may be considered.
Rarely, if ever, does a designer look at the personalities within any defined audience. If you understand the qualities of personality as defined by profiles like Myers-Briggs Type Indicator or DiSC® or DISC, then you realize everyone has filters through which the world is viewed and taken in – trust/distrust, acceptance/question, tolerate/tolerate, discount/accept, and on, and on.
I believe that the best training unconsciously accommodates the filters of those attending. For example, when I was designing technical training all of the courses were successful because the audience had to learn the material in order to remain employed. However, the really successful courses allowed for personality preferences.
Here’s an example for instance
The company was developing a new, high-speed check sorter for use in the Federal Reserve and larger banks. Typically, the training for this type of machine was six to ten weeks which required the service technicians to be housed at the training center for the duration.
At the time, I had no training, or interest, in behaviors or personality, but my SME and I thought we could develop a three to four-week training program that provided multiple paths to success – which in this case was finding implanted software bugs, hardware bugs and resetting critical mechanical settings.
Our approach, which ran counter to most of the technical instructors, was to break the machine down into its functional areas – a typical approach. Then we identified the applicable technical manual references and software troubleshooting tools for each. Finally, we developed many, many bugs – software, hardware, check stock samples, etc.
The class opened with an in-lab live demonstration of multiple sorters successfully sorting several thousand checks. During the demo, the learners were broken into four-person teams with each team being shown the functional areas while the learners followed along discussed various aspects, took notes, and asked questions.
Following the demo, the discussions continued with the more experienced technicians exploring the specific functions that gave them the most problems in the field. Once all of the questions were asked and answered, the trainer/facilitator induced bugs into each machine.
Machines 1 was limited to technicians who preferred to read the manuals, run the diagnostics, etc. – in other words fix it by the book.
Machine 2 was for those who preferred a more seat-of-the-pants, trial-and-error approach.
As bugs were found and resolved, the learners began bugging each other’s sorters. And, they began to share findings in the tech manuals and findings by trial and error. By the end of the third week, the entire class passed the final exam.
In 1994, I learned to facilitate DiSC® and began to transition from technical to soft skills.” While designing one of my first soft skills training programs, I ran into a conundrum – my then-boss wanted a PPT Deck printed three-up with a place for notes while my research identified reams of information that was germane to the topic. What to do?
By now I knew that the D, I, S, or C each needed to have things treated differently.
After 20 years of learning and working with DiSC, I’m still learning. The following brief synopsizes may seem over-simplistic even harsh, but you should get the points:
Dominance – direct, demanding, and strong-willed. Competition and winning are important. They are not normally good listeners. And they really don’t want to spend time in class where they don’t see competence, concrete results, challenges, and independence. Besides they are always in a hurry and want to get out early, and he or she often interrupts and is often seen as impolite and argumentative – especially if their view of the world differs from that of the trainer/facilitator.
A PPT Deck with loose notes and limited interaction – usually don’t like role plays – the debate is OK and talking too if they can dominate. Instructors need to handle and be direct. These folks normally don’t like rigidly designed e- or m-learning.
They love change and freedom – no restrictions or limitations. Usually are task-focused. And, embrace change because it brings opportunities to excel. They tend to tell rather than ask too.
DiSC i personalities like to be coached, have freedom of expression, lots of friendship, and happiness. By the way, they love change.
A PPT Deck with loose notes and lots of interaction including role-plays. Though not good listeners, they are usually open and friendly, eager to talk, jumping from subject to subject. By the way, like the D they love change and focus on the people side of the business.
Not really supporters of e-/m-learning unless they can do it with a group where someone else does the navigating and they get to talk. They too tend to tell rather than ask, but they are usually less direct or imposing than the D.
Steadiness – calm, patient, and consistent. Motivated by cooperation, opportunities to help, and sincere appreciation. These folks are great listeners who are trustworthy, loyal, helpful, and supportive, and often have a specialty or area of expertise.
Usually, they have a calm appearance and are easygoing. Excitement is rarer, though they usually are light-hearted, and they dislike change – especially if it directly impacts their job or they feel it may. They are very people-focused.
A PPT Deck is OK if the facilitator/instructor has a slow pace and takes time to answer questions in sufficient detail (while this is taking place the D is huffing and the I is nodding their heads). Use Job Aids and supplemental readings.
These folks consume e- and m-learning well as long as it has the desired detail and is intuitive to navigate. Since they ask questions, there needs to always be lots of information.
Conscientiousness – careful, cautious, accurate, and tactful. Motivated by knowledge acquisition, showing expertise, and high-quality work. In addition to doing quality work, they value accuracy in others and personal growth.
Expect questions that focus on detail. They are concerned with following the rules and doing things in the proper order or sequence. Change is not their thing especially if it does, or may, impact the rules, operating procedures, and processes that they use. They have a strong task focus and often prefer to work alone.
A PPT Deck or bulleted lists in student guides do not provide sufficient information. Provide reference lists and quote authorities on a subject.
Like the S, they ask questions about how things work or how something relates to what they already know or do.
Impact on Designing Training
For instructor-led training design, I tend to write for the C – detail, references, and use questions that drive to detail – and give the leader the freedom to adjust to meet their class’s makeup.
For me this means . . .
- Short segments less info for D’s and I’s.
- Interactions, role plays, and discussions for the I’s and S’s.
- Detail and references for the S’s and C’s.
- Staying in the classroom for longer discussions with the S’s and C’s.
- Coffee and snacks as a distraction.
- Managed side conversations.
- Fixed agenda that is followed.
- Lots of breaks.
For screen content, use clear use of language and simple sentence structure with audio that repeats what is on the screen. I believe that having one thing printed on the screen and then covering it with different words or new information causes more confusion and dissatisfaction.
Use simple images that support the content. In some cases, cartoon images have more impact than pictures of real things or people. I too believe that sometimes the more outrageous the image, the greater the retention.
Colors need to be complimentary, but non-complimentary may increase retention. Here again, this is my opinion.