Be Less “Nice”

Nice to know vs Need to know informationHere is an issue many of us battle with sometimes: Being a passionate people about our areas of expertise when training and assessing, we get the urge to share everything and help people new to a topic learn as much as possible. Many of us have to constantly remind ourselves to be less “nice” and let them get on with learning!

If this is you, you are not alone in this ongoing challenge! If you are a training developer, this is also an issue often faced as you work with Subject Matter Experts (and let’s admit it, the Public Safety Sector is full of technical content and SMEs are everywhere!)

If you ask a Subject Matter Expert what information a newbie needs to know to do a certain job, often the answer is WAY more than you have the training time to share and WAY more than a new person’s brain can cope with. Experienced people often forget how it feels to be learning something new and how overwhelming it can be.

With the increase in online learning, (where it is oh so easy to include even more information for learners) the risk of being told to include the “nice” increases dramatically. Please note, for those of us also working with nationally recognised training,  units of competency and the amount of required knowledge and skills criteria is a whole different post of its own!

In developing product, our job is to remember and remind that the research shows – just because you include it or train it, doesn’t mean they learn it! So how do we pull out the “need to know” from the “nice to know” when developing training?

Stop including everything that people believe is important:

  • Identify who is the “boss” of all training and get their backing about the whole issue. You can be more confident excluding information if you know that they understand what you are trying to achieve.
  • Remember that an SME opinion alone is not enough reason to include information.
  • Be careful how you phrase questions – asking if something should be included will often result in the answer YES. More justification is needed here!
  • Remind everyone involved that KNOWING something doesn’t always change how you DO something. This is a key part of the difference between “need to know” and “nice to know” – particularly when developing training for people new to the job.

Ask the right questions:

We need to sort through all the information and make sure the answer to these questions which focus on DOING the job are a YES:

  • Is this information something that would put people in danger if they didn’t know it?
  • Is this information something that you can’t do the job without knowing?
  • Is this information something that would be used frequently to do the job safely?

Negotiate and find alternatives:

  • Reverse the process – start with the skills and then fill in any knowledge gaps found that learners needed to the job. Do a training trial run without the extra information. Does it affect the outcomes of the learners? Only put back in what makes a difference.
  • Incorporate glossaries, case studies and further information links that can be accessed by learners in their own time and not overtake the “need to know” training focus. Make it clear these are “nice” and that it doesn’t look/feel like a must do.
  • If there is insistence that something be included, present the information in a simplified/reduced format. Have the SME or a trainer explain the concept to you in 15 seconds or less, in a way you can understand it. (This may take them several attempts, but it really pulls out the key points!)
  • Consider a staged approach to the training – the bare essentials with a follow up day/session at a later time to cover more advanced information and contingencies after learners have a chance to get the basics sorted.

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