Can we all agree that the lack of knowledge about an organization’s products, services, policies, safety practices etc. is detrimental to employee performance, and ultimately affects corporate results? How many times have you heard an employee say “I didn’t know I was supposed to do it that way!” when something goes wrong? Companies need a way to identify knowledge gaps, especially in critical areas such as safety. It can seem like an overwhelming exercise, especially when you have hundreds of thousands of employees, located in different geographic regions, with different job functions and objectives. However, not only is it achievable, the 7 strategies highlighted below and detailed in Axonify’s “Mind the Gap” Whitepaper will start you in the right direction – reducing employee knowledge gaps, one employee at a time.
Strategy #1: Uncover Knowledge Gaps
The first step is to understand what your employees don’t know. Using pre- and post-training assessment techniques can be used to uncover initial gaps in knowledge. Ongoing frequent testing and self-assessment – in a fun and easy way – can identify what learning has or has not been retained before it has an adverse impact on employee performance.
Strategy #2: Uncover Application Gaps
The real measurement of both the effectiveness of training and the existence of knowledge gaps is achieved when an organization evaluates training at Kirkpatrick’s level 3 and level 4. These levels identify what learning employees are able to apply to their jobs, and the measurable benefit the organization. Although difficult to measure, it is doable through ongoing testing, self-assessment and supervisor assessment correlated to KPI’s.
Strategy #3: Make it Relevant
Gone are “one-size fits all” programs that expose all employees to the same broad stroke of information in the same manner. Every employee’s learning style and level of expertise is unique, so are their knowledge gaps. Personalization is key in reducing these gaps.
Strategy #4: Make it Bite-Sized
Cognitive theory suggests that people are only able to retain about 4 items in short-term memory, making extended information-packed training sessions a potential landmine of knowledge gaps. By presenting knowledge in smaller, bite-sized chunks that are focused on what the employee needs to know, make learning easier to retain and apply.
Strategy #5: Make it Fun and Interesting
Uncovering knowledge and application gaps is only the first part of the puzzle. Once you know where you can improve knowledge gaps, you need to ensure that the learning is being absorbed and retained. Outlined in Axonify’s “Mind the Gap” Whitepaper, there are several strategies that can be implemented to make training fun and interesting.
Strategy #6: Make it Worthwhile
Closing knowledge gaps means that employees must be motivated to participate in the learning process on a continuous basis. To do this, organizations have to answer “WIFM” or what’s in it for me? In his article “The Ten Ironies of Motivation”, Bob Nelson, a well-known authority on employee motivation discusses multiple aspects of this topic, and identifies that intermittent reinforcement is a key strategy in maintaining motivation.
Strategy #7: Make it Continuous
Above all else, the key to finding and closing knowledge gaps is to ensure that learning and evaluation are done on a continuous basis. The challenge in training is that as soon as a learning event ends, information retention immediately begins to degrade, unless it can be continually reinforced until used. Interval Reinforcement is a way to make it continuous.