How many trainings have you been to that actually got you to change your behavior? Chances are not many.
The training industry is broken. This is because the majority of training programs use content-focused strategies that leave out the essential steps needed to create actual behavioral change.
This is the Information Age, in case you missed it. The content for life-altering changes is already out there. You experience headlines such as, ‘3 Ways to Improve Your Leadership Skills,’ or ‘5 Ways to Improve Your Focus.’ You show up to a seminar, and 80 percent of your time there is filled with content-driven material. We sit through presentations full of information, delivered all at once. Of course it’s hard to absorb anything this way. We hear the what-you-should-do-and-why information delivery method all the time, but don’t follow through.
So, why don’t we make changes?
One major problem is something that is already well-known in the field of learning. It is called Ebbinghaus’s Forgetting Curve, which is the decline of memory in real time. Ebbinghaus, a German psychologist, found that we lose 70% of what we learn within the first twenty four hours of encountering the material. Furthermore, 90% goes out the other ear in a week’s time. Information floods into your brain all at once, and rushes right out again. It’s gone just as fast as it came in.
Let me summarize: we already know from our own experiences that content alone will not change our behavior, and on top of that, we cannot even remember the content! Wow, content driven training is a huge waste of time.
The biggest change we can make involves long-term learning instead of one-time training. Traditional training programs typically focus on content because it is easy to deliver all at once. But it is hard to change behavior with a one-time thing, a unique event, or one comprehensive experience. It takes dedicated practice.
There’s no hard rule on how long it takes to create a habit. BJ Fogg, a Stanford psychologist, is finding with his work on tiny habits that people can typically form a new habit in as short as 5 days. More substantial behavior changes, like improving productivity at work, increasing the effectiveness of communication, or reducing stress takes a lot, lot longer.
So how do we do it? What’s needed is a training strategy that both give people the little content they need at the right time, and then supports them over a length of time so they can incorporate this into their work. What does this training program look like? Stay tuned for the “Expose / Train / Maintain” framework in the next article.