Jargon Be-Gone!

A recent report by HRMCanada outlines a shocking trend which we should all take note of.  According to the report, “Forty percent of respondents (employees) admitted using buzz words despite not knowing their meaning and the same number said they’re afraid they’ll be exposed for their lack of skill or competence.”

Click Here to Read the Article.

Forty percent of employees not knowing the company’s language this is startling statistic. But what does this really mean and what are the implications of almost half of any workforce not understanding what the organization, management, or even each other is saying.

No wonder we have miscommunication in the workplace, this is not “Rocket Science” – pun intended.

According to the same report by HRMCanada, “Two thirds of workers admit they’re out of their depth” and “Sixty per cent of employees expressed a desire for more on-the-job training to make them more confident and capable.”

The Huffington post has also chimed in on the use of jargon in the workplace.

Click Here to Read the Article

According to the Huffington post, “there is one corner of the English language that our culture seems to collectively disdain: workplace jargon. At their best, the trite phrases with which we fill our work speech are vapid and convey a false sense of urgency. At their worst, they are flat-out aggressive.”

To address the problems associate with using jargon in the workplace, HR needs to ask itself some questions:

  • Instead of jargon, what can HR do to improve communication?
  • How can HR simplify Training and Development to improve employee performance?

HR has to be sure it understands the skills required in the workplace and train employees to deliver those skills. Communication skills need to be learned so people can talk with each other in meaningful ways.  Let’s drop the business jargon and say what we mean with the goal of delivering appropriate employee training and performance!

Discussion Questions:

  1. Research several organization documents such as, mission, vision, and value statements, press releases, and turn around strategies. Pick one and then identify the business jargon that is used throughout? How could this jargon be misinterpreted by employees? Rewrite the document without the jargon.

Know Your Stuff? Share Your Stuff!

It seems to be a fairly simple concept – effective training should be provided by Subject Matter Experts (SMEs).  They bring knowledge, expertise and, most importantly, credibility to the topic at hand.  They also bring ‘real world’ experience that should help to bridge the knowledge gap for learners that can, sometimes, be pretty vast between the discussion of theory and the application of that theory.

SME acrostic - Subject Matter Expert
Source: Constantin Stanciu/Shutterstock

Using an obvious example, if a trainer was hired to teach trainees how to play hockey, they would have to show people how to skate, pass the puck, and handle the stick.  An effective trainer would not be someone who could just ‘talk’ about these skills or describe how to play the game. They would actually need to be a skilled hockey player themselves and be able to share what it feels like to learn and perform at a high level of expertise.

This concept seems to be taking hold in formal training processes, including post-secondary learning organizations.  It is not enough for a professor to provide theory, they must be able to bring some subject matter expertise into classroom learning in order for students to make the link between theory and ‘real world’ application.

A recent article in The Globe & Mail, highlights the effective use of subject matter experts in traditional business school environments.

Click Here to Read the Article

This article brings forth the wonderful opportunity that business executives can bring to formal learning settings.  It also presents the changing perspective that not all knowledge should be vested in one person at the front of the classroom in a formal learning organization.  It is clear that the more we can bring in the expertise of others into the creation of effective training models, the richer the shared learning becomes for everyone.

Discussion Questions:

  1. Thinking about your own learning experiences, how did you learn to drive a vehicle?
    • What theoretical concepts did you have to learn?
    • What were the practical steps that you had to learn in order to actually drive the vehicle?
    • Who taught you how to drive a vehicle and what expertise did they bring to that learning process for you?
  2. Have you been inspired by any SMEs during the course of your program studies? Who were they and why were they inspirational?
  3. Why does ‘real world’ application matter for effective training and learning?

Is Experience the Best Teacher?

Source: Patsy Michaud/Shutterstock
Source: Patsy Michaud/Shutterstock

We have often heard the expression ‘walk a mile in my shoes’ when someone wants to relay how a certain experience has affected them.  Usually, the experience was unpleasant, challenging, or just very difficult and we want to have someone else understand how we felt.  Why?  Sometimes, when we experience a difficult situation we want to talk about it just to complain,  but we also talk about our negative experiences because we don’t want to go through that experience the same way, again.  Having a negative experience, especially one that causes us discomfort, is certainly a key factor in changing our behaviour in order to avoid repeating the same experience in the future.  One hopes that what we learn for ourselves, we might help others with as well.

Listening to someone’s negative experience is very different from living through the actual experience itself. A very effective training design technique which implements experiential learning, is being used at the Michener Institute for Applied Health Sciences.  An “aging simulation suit’ is being used to train future healthcare practitioners.  The suit is designed in such a way that it literally allows someone to walk in the shoes of an aging person and to learn, through personal experience, what it physically feels like to be a patient or a client in a healthcare setting.

Click here to read the article and watch a video

Discussion Questions:

  1. Besides healthcare, what types of industries would benefit from having this type of sensory aging & mobility training provided to their employees?
  2. Have you changed something in your own work style because of how you felt someone treated you? What did you change and why did you make that change?
  3. From a customer service perspective, what other types of training tools could be used to relay the experience of aging?
  4. Why is this type of experiential training effective?

From Bad to Good Training

Ok let’s talk about it, we have all experienced it, and we all loath it – The horrible training session!

Whether it was a lecture at school, an in-house training session, or an expensive professional development session, some of them are terrible. The kind where the clock actually stops ticking and you resort to counting the dots on the ceiling tiles.  I once counted 3864, so I am speaking from experience!

What can be done about this problem of terrible training? John Wellwood in his article, How to deliver a training course in 14 easy steps, addresses this problem. The 14 lessons, recommended by Wellwood, are as follows:

Lesson 1) Send out pre-work or communicate the aims or objectives for the day

Lesson 2) Ensure students receive a warm and friendly welcome

Lesson 3) Lay the room out to be comfortable and effective

Lesson 4) Introductions are essential

Lesson 5) Keep your insecurities to yourself

Lesson 6) Project your voice

Lesson 7) Build up to the complex stuff

Lesson 8) Ensure your examples add clarity, rather than muddying the waters

Lesson 9) Reading from a slide is not presenting

Lesson 10) Your hand-outs must add value

Lesson 11) Be dynamic and engaging

Lesson 12) If something goes wrong, own it

Lesson 13) Take your lead from the delegates

Lesson 14) Summarize!

Click here to read the complete article

This is an excellent checklist to start your training delivery on the right track and keep it there.  Whether you are a student doing an in-class presentation or an experienced trainer, keep John Wellwood’s training checklist in mind, so your participants are not counting the ceiling tiles!   

Discussion Questions:

  1. Think about the last training session you attended.  Did the presenter follow Wellwood’s 14 lessons?  Which ones did they miss and how did that affect the presentation?
  2. Think about the last time you presented to a group, did you follow Wellwood’s 14 lessons?
  3. How would you incorporate Wellwood’s 14 lessons, into your next presentation?







Condense it Down, the Mantra of Training

Decreasing the Time and Increasing the Effectiveness of Company Training

Honey, I have shrunk the training budget again!   Rick Moraines, in 1989, came out with the feel good movie “Honey, I have Shrunk the Kids.” Following in this concept, many organizational leaders have have continually cut the time allocated to employee training sessions. For example, week long training has been condensed into 3 days, 1 day training into 2 hours, etc.

Condensed training  is a reality in today’s’ organizations, and it does not appear to be going away, leading HR will have to learn ways to deal with this time limitation.  In the short video clip, below, Apex Training illustrates how designing training into three stages can make it more effective.

  1. Lead-in or pre-training
  2. Formal delivery of training or learning and linking
  3. Post training or living it

Source: Apex Training, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RoMqQfz1eZY.  The above constitutes a link to the source website.  Please click on the play icon to stream the video.

HR can assist organizations with training design by learning how to integrate these three stages into any corporate training initiative.

Discussion Questions

  1. According to Apex training, what can be done to improve training delivery results by 15 times?
  2. Why are developing learning objectives so important in training delivery?
  3. How can you improve the learners’ readiness to learn?
  4. In the formal delivery section, what percentages of practical to technical information does Apex recommend using for optimal learning?
  5. What are the value of using action plans in learning?
  6. In what stage are the action plans used by the learner?