Information overload of training for new hires

During a conversation yesterday I was told that a group of new hires (for which I’ve been charged with developing a process training program) has just started their orientation and training this week. When I heard what they’re being put through … I felt pity for them.

Bear in mind that these are new hires – never having been with the company and so do not know anything about its culture or values other than what they may glean from seeing TV commercials. And these folks likely have not worked in this particular industry segment, which is heavily regulated and can be quite technical in its use of terms.

Here’s what they’re subjected to … all of this is classroom-based, by the way …

A full day of “orientation training”

Two days of job area foundational training – where they learn the basic concepts and principles of the job function for which they’ve been hired

Two days of compliance training (at least two days – maybe more) – that goes through all of the federal and state rules and regs that govern this industry segment, which are many

One or two days of systems training where they are (ahem) taught how to use all the different systems that are part of their job function … there are approximately 6 different systems … although not everyone uses all the systems, the new hires will probably have to learn about 3-4 of them

A full day of process training where they are to learn all the “how to do such-and-such” for their job

And all of this is tossed to the new hires (poor guys!) in one to two weeks … and then they’re let loose on the job.

A significant difficulty is that the client group (who are the ones responsible for developing the so-called training plan and for contracting me and other trainers) truly believe that this is how new hire training should be handled. As the sponsors of all this they are adamant they’re doing things properly … which makes me think that they themselves are under some kind of unrealistic pressure from higher up in the organization. As much as we ID-ers have consulted with them and nudged them to consider how ineffective this training approach is, the sponsor group has not wavered from their original plan.

To me this plan is so much like schooling and less about training anything …

It makes me wonder …

Why would anyone think that throwing all this information all at once at a learner is any good at all?

What makes anyone think that this is the best training plan/approach for a new hire?

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About Rory

I make my home in the central part of the Garden State along with my family. When I'm not working as an Instructional Designer (focusing mostly on Web-Based learning ... and other eLearning technologies) or researching something, I'm found at home playing computer or video games. Among other things, I volunteer as a choir member and catechist for 8th graders at my parish.
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One Response to Information overload of training for new hires

  1. Mike Berta says:

    Rory,

    Great post and it reminded me of a conversation I had back in the mortgage industry with an operations director. The Ops Dir wanted to shorten the training timeline so the new hires could hit the floor faster and fill the FTE count for the client startups.

    The primary problem was that all of the materials in the 3 week training period were required for job performance (as demonstrated by almost a year of data and tweaking to get it right). Admittedly, training sessions used something other than lecture and therefore took more time but the output was rock solid (which is why the client chose us).

    Being a good little ID I poured over the content trying to find ways to slim it down and make sure it wasn’t and information dump. I could not find anything that would maintain quality, meet regulations, and shorten the time. I gave it an honest try. The Ops Dir, reportedly having training experience took the materials and dropped all the exercises from the class taking out almost 2 days. He gave it back and told me to find more things to cut.

    Sadly, I lost this battle. The trainees were getting information thrown at them, it was like drinking from a fire hose. I felt awful for them and the trainers. Everyone knew this was bad mojo.

    I am glad to say that shortly after that I left the company following a mentor of mine. Even more glad to say that the mortgage operation eventually bankrupted under the Ops Dir oversight and he was terminated with prejudice. I was asked back and refused.

    The moral of the story: shortcut learning at your own peril.

    A smarter workforce is better for performance and one chooses to front load the time or spend the time on the back end replacing people or managing customer service problems.

    Good luck my friend, I’m pulling for you.

    Mike

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