What’s The Big Deal About Training Millennials?

What’s The Big Deal About Training Millennials?

5 techniques to ensure your training delivers results for a younger workforce

This is not a new problem, but it is exaggerated. What is all the fuss about, right? Every older generation has its misgivings about the younger generation. I’m reminded of a recent campfire discussion in which my father, myself, my younger cousin, and my son were discussing cars. Four generations represented in one discussion – hilarity ensues: Dad knows how cars used to work, and I had to learn, but didn’t like it. My cousin knows only that his car gets him from point A to point B and my son? Well, he and his friends play “that’s my car”.

The issue is exaggerated when a massive younger force combines with a huge older force which is staying around longer. Again, hilarity ensues. Seems impossible to resolve, doesn’t it? But it’s not. Here are some time-tested techniques to set you in the right direction.

Begin with the learner in mind
Who your learner is drives what, how, when, and in what way you should deliver training. If your learners are Millennials, it’s important to keep in mind that your own personal experience is your own worst enemy. When training your new generational work force, don’t take for granted they will understand what you mean, because they won’t. And what’s worse? They won’t tell you.

Focus on your desired result

The purpose of training in business has a slightly different focus than that of your education as you grew up. Your education was designed to instill a knowledge base from which you could operate, while the training you develop for your workforce is designed mostly to drive certain behaviors.

Deliver the information at the right time

This is where we see most initiatives fail, especially with Millennial workforces. The initiative either puts them all in a room for a week, attempting to dump 30 years-worth of knowledge and experience into their heads, or makes the interaction so mind-numbingly simple even the most motivated learners eventually give up and go to sleep with their eyes open. When delivering new information, it’s important to prepare the learner with primer information (which could be pre-reading, an internet search, YouTube videos or interactive eLearnings). It is also important to allow the learner plenty of time to practice in a safe environment during the event. Don’t make the mistake of thinking a four-hour presentation is any more effective for the Millennial than it would be for you.

Provide performance support

The head of the younger generation is a cacophony of noise and distractions, assaulted by an average of 3000 messages per day competing for their attention! So your younger learners will almost invariably be distracted. Providing learning assets to remind them of what they experienced in your training is critical to your success. Think of that sign on the bathroom door which reminds employees to wash their hands before returning to work. How else might you leverage a similar technique to reinforce your messages when your learner is in the field or on the job? (HINT: Wonderful time to use those mobile devices!)

Recognize the difference between tech savvy and tech dependent

Millennials are not generally tech savvy so much as tech dependent. Tech savvy means you understand how technology works. Tech dependent means you rely on technology for your survival. Millennials have been using technology all their lives and any sudden absence of these tools is disruptive. If you’ve adhered to points one through four, you will have recognized how important the use of technology may be to your learner. Now, you can identify appropriate devices and platforms to use throughout the curriculum. Consider eLearning or videos for pre-learning and incorporating tablets or computer exercises in your live training. Finally, mobile devices are a terrific way to deliver performance support at the moment of need in the field.

Create a recipe for success by addressing these simple questions:

Who is your learner?

What is the desired result?

When do they need the information?

How will you reinforce the learning in the field?

What technologies are they dependent on?


Dan Black is the VP of Learning Strategy at Tortal Training, where he specializes in aligning training solutions with strategic business objectives. His goal is to help business leaders see training doesn’t have to be an off-ramp for revenue but rather can play a pivotal role in producing significant ROI.

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