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Business trainings rarely work!

There is a big secret in the field of business training. Once it is pointed out to you, it is actually quite obvious. Most training providers don't want you to be aware of it, but you probably already feel it instinctively...

Adult learning rarely works. And even if the overall rating of a training session is 10 out of 10, your participants may have learned anything useful at all.

Lernen kann so einfach sein, Vergessen leider auch!

Hermann Ebbinghaus sends his warmest regards!

The psychologist Hermann Ebbinghaus found out in 1898 that our memory is not nearly as good as we would like it to be. Even if the contents are top and the trainer acts brilliantly: On the 1st day after a training session, you have probably already forgotten 20% of the knowledge [please have a look at the illustration].

Six days later, you probably can still remember that you attended a training session. However, most of the learning content is already gone. That is unfortunate, but true.

What can should we learn from this?

1. No happy sheets! Let’s leave the comfort zone!

The fate of us trainers often depends on the... feedback sheet. If the results are outstanding, everyone is happy. If the grades are average or even bad in parts, we’ll start worrying about future jobs quite quickly.

The outcome? Trainers tend to avoid potentially uncomfortable but profitable learning elements. Participants should feel as comfortable as possible so they'll rate positively. Challenging discussions? Critical feedback to individual participants? Difficult! The problem is, that really good and sustainable learning happens mostly outside of your own comfort zone. No pain, no gain! This is not always true, but quite often.

Our wishes:

  1. Allow us to do training outside the usual comfort zone!
  2. Implement a feedback form that we trainers fill out regarding the participants, the learning environment and the performance or cooperation of individual participants.
  3. Tolerate training results outside the corridor of 1.0 to 1.5, if we trainers can justify this well; for example, with a goal-oriented learning outside the comfort zone.

2. Provide your participants with more learning time!

Instead of ever shorter learning events, offer fewer learning topics with a longer duration [> one day]. By doing so, we would not have to eliminate interactive and experience-based methods. Because it is exactly these elements that create good and sustainable learning experiences. Mr. Ebbinghaus sends his warmest regards.

I would like to illustrate this with a real-life example: My four-year-old son Emil is just learning to ride a bike, and – later on – he will probably be able to do it for the rest of his life. And why is that? Well, he does not listen to a lecture about riding a bike nor does he attend a two-hour Learn & Lunch, but he is going to reach conclusions and know-how by himself [with just a little bit of outside support]. This principle works just as well for adults, if we are given enough time!

3. Learning based on actual challenges!

I have been "lurking" around ChatGPT for weeks, trying it out here and there but not getting the desired results. However, since many colleagues continued to tell me miraculous stories about the new AI, I wanted to know for sure. I therefore watched several tutorials and I also asked colleagues to share examples and best practices with me. Now, I am much wiser: the results of ChatGPT can indeed be overwhelming if you know how to best use the tool.

What do we learn from this? Adults learn best when they are facing an actual challenge: I have a problem, seek knowledge about it on the spot, and then later refine this know-how with the help of individual support or coaching. This approach is perfect for our adult brains.

For you, this could mean the following:

  1. Make your managers fit for the topic of cultural intelligence and use them as cross-cultural coaches for their employees. This is how your organization will benefit the most. After all, adults learn best when they are facing an actual challenge and receive immediate support.
  2. Alternatively, or as a complimentary solution, I would like to recommend a company license for the Country Navigator online tool. This app also provides your employees with a lot of situational support for their transnational collaboration. Exactly for those moments when support is actually needed.

4. Training should not be a fire-and-forget approach!

I believe that we are all aware that an one-time learning event does not change our behavior or our values in the long term. We need to rethink learning and, above all, adapt it to adult habits. So not only do we need MORE time for individual trainings to make learning more interactive and therefore more sustainable. We should also design learning scenarios over a longer period of time and include exciting learning nuggets.

According to Ebbinghaus, this significantly flattens the forgetting curve [please have a look at the illustration]. At Eidam & Partner, we therefore offer a learner journey that takes maximum account of this aspect:

  1. First, we convey the most important basics about cross-cultural competence via our exciting two-hour eLearning module. Your participants subsequently come to our live training event with some prior knowledge. Because we don’t have to invest time on teaching the basics anymore, we can therefore address your specific challenges more specifically. In addition, we also have more time to practice skills.
  2. To stimulate learning even afterwards, your participants can sign up for our cross-cultural business tips. Twice a month, they will receive entertaining learning nuggets via e-mail to refresh and deepen their knowledge.
  3. In addition, we provide all participants with a free one-year license for the world's leading online tool, Country Navigator. This way, your employees can get support, hints and collaboration strategies right on the spot; exactly when it is needed.

What now?

You can simply wait seven days and then, at the latest, you will have forgotten about this inflammatory article ;-). Alternatively, you could let yourself be inspired and make adult education better and more sustainable.

In any case, we would love to be at your side with a motivated team, inspiring experts and plenty of innovative ideas on adult learning.

Viele Grüße, Ihr Markus Eidam

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