Creating an Effective Training Program: What Not to Do

Group of people in training
Creating effective training

There is such a wide variety of different training methods and techniques available to businesses - but the reality is that some are simply more effective than others. In a business environment where onboarding and ongoing training is becoming more important than ever, we can’t rely on outdated, ineffective methods for much longer.

Here’s how you can get ahead; start by eliminating techniques and training systems that feature these common issues:

Excluding immersive training methods

If a learner doesn’t feel like the training is important to their job (or their safety), they aren’t going to retain the information you give them.

Immersive training combats that by providing context for the theoretical sections and an environment for the practical sections. A learner’s attention is quickly recaptured if a simulation viscerally demonstrates to someone what happens if they get their safety procedure wrong. Of course, this training technique allows for a safe learning environment wherein learners are able to fail without consequence. 

But that’s just one example - immersive training, regardless of the subject, makes it easier to capture the attention and imagination of the learner as they learn by doing.

Cognitive overload 

You might think it's best to sit your staff down and do a data dump of information all in one go. However, if you throw a heap of information at a trainee and hope that most of it sticks, you’re going to be disappointed. Too much information results in a cognitive overload - a situation in which the learner is unable to process all the content.

The reality is that people can only learn and retain a certain amount of information at once. More immersive training certainly helps, but there’s only so much data the brain can process and apply effectively before getting overloaded.

If there’s a lot of training to be done, allow trainees to master small sections of it before moving on - repetition is often key to learning.

Skipping the review process 

At a certain point, effective training becomes everybody’s responsibility. Trainers might be designing and deploying the learning, but the effectiveness of that learning affects everybody in the business - nobody benefits from working with someone that’s ill-prepared.

That’s why it’s always worthwhile to get fresh eyes on the work. Before deploying the training, ask a colleague (preferably one that doesn’t already know the material) to run through the training while you observe. Take notes. Make improvements. Encourage suggestions.

It doesn’t matter how many times you personally have tested the training, there will nearly always be some kind of error or design flaw that could reduce its effectiveness. Review the training a couple of times and you’ll avoid a lot of common issues.

Leaving your trainees to educate themselves

There’s ‘hands-off’ training, and then there’s ‘no hands’ training. The former can be effective if you have engaged trainees that want to drive their own learning and investigate different ways to educate themselves. The latter, on the other hand, will result in new employees feeling lost, confused and unable to complete their lessons effectively.

Make yourself available for inquiries, or put systems in place that provide direction (see SimTutor’s Learn Mode for an example). Don’t solely rely on the learners.

Creating an environment where trainees are afraid to fail 

It’s important to be able to fail when learning new skills. Doing something incorrectly is an excellent way to learn how to do it correctly, and an environment where people are afraid to fail is, in fact, an environment where people are afraid to learn. Research shows that positive emotions optimize learning. 

SimTutor uses simulation learning to provide a setting in which failure has consequences, but no risk - a highly valuable feature when learning safety protocols, especially in high-risk industries.

Building your training program 

Use the list above to eliminate training methods that don’t work and rely instead on those that keep immersion, provide realistic scenarios, don’t overload your learner, and allow them to fail - with the occasional guiding hand from you, of course.


About the author


SimTutor is a global leader in simulation-based learning.

SimTutor Author is an authoring tool designed to help you build interactive procedural simulations for healthcare, medical education and other industries where immersive training is critical.