There is such an exhilaration when standing before highly engaged, bright-eyed individuals full of anticipation to learn and develop themselves. Looking into their faces, you can see their minds feeding on every point you make, creating a synergy of energy between trainer and attendee. At the same time, there is a disheartening feeling when your audience is not paying attention, checking their cell phones and looking less than engaged, showing an air that your material is not appealing.
What are the secrets to keeping these individuals absorbed in your material? There are several strategies that I have developed in my training that will ensure your millennials stay involved. The key is to understand this generation of learners, as they have higher expectations.
It is our duty as trainers to present high-end content that is fresh, stimulating, attention-grabbing and appeals to their desire to move up in the organization. Millennials want to make an impact, and it should be an organization's priority to provide trainings that fulfill that desire
Two areas that are appealing to this group are leadership development training and change management training, some of the most challenging areas leaders encounter. We train individuals to become good managers, yet when it comes to training in leadership, there's more we can offer.
Leadership Development Training
Millennials need to understand how a training is going to benefit them in the long term. Many organizations are focused on the short-term and addressing the organization's immediate needs. Most millennials are curious about developing leadership traits.
The number one training to develop outstanding leaders is emotional intelligence training, as it develops self-awareness and provides tools to learn how to manage one’s emotions and read other people’s emotions. Learning self-regulation is paramount to success, as the number one issue that derails leaders is lack of impulse control. Teaching these skills to millennials and explaining their importance will get their attention.
Change Management Training
If upper management understood the psychology behind the resistance to change, they could then adopt a unique approach to introducing change within the organization. Understanding how the brain functions is a vital component to guarantee a smoother transition.
My unique training in this area allows millennials to have a better understanding of themselves and their reactions to mandated changes. With this awareness, they learn the tools to manage change more effectively and with less resistance. Those who help those around them during the shift will naturally rise up as leaders.
Key Strategies For Trainings
Regardless of the specific training and its content, below are some broader techniques that each training needs to incorporate.
• Interact with them. As this generation is happy and fluent in the digital world and online learning, offering in-person training creates more engagement between themselves and the trainer. They develop stronger interpersonal skills and utilize group gamification. The trainer needs to present the material in an interactive and engaging manner, so as not to draw them out. It is essential that the trainer be agile and willing to deviate from the script of the training to address the spontaneous thoughts, comments and questions that ensue. If the trainer is flexible, taking these challenges can make for a dynamic training that is exuberant and fun.
• Tell a story. Real examples need to be presented to emphasize the point made, as storytelling is the surest way information is retained. What happened before a new skill was utilized, then what happened when the person in this story became proficient? I often use short, entertaining YouTube clips that accentuate key points. Using diverse media breaks up the monotony and keeps the material fresh.
• Provide break-out times. This allows them to practice amongst each other and share with the group what they discovered. Utilizing this technique allows the trainer to know what challenges they are facing with the new material and what they are understanding. This exercise also affords the opportunity to practice the new material so that it becomes more familiar and not so foreign.
• Be vulnerable and flexible. Being vulnerable builds trust quickly. For example, when I introduce myself via PowerPoint presentation, I include a photo of my dog and myself by a lake we hiked to. A glimpse into my personal life allows them to relate to me in a different way and can make the training on being vulnerable more poignant. Millennials want to know who you are outside of the business persona. As trainers, we have influence and can model leadership traits during our trainings.
These are just a few of the strategies that make trainings successful for this generation. Developing millennials' leadership skills will increase retention because it feeds their itch to make an impact. They want content that reinforces that they can be the future of the organization as its managers and leaders.