Just finished reading Malcolm Gladwell’s The Tipping Point. This book was written more than a decade ago, but every single point made by Gladwell rings true even now and will hold good for ever. Given a chance I will repost every word in the book. A must read for every manager, marketer, salesman and anybody else interested in finding out why certain ideas take wing while others falter.
I would like to highlight the concluding chapter in the book that talks about the need to identify the right set of messengers to propagate an idea. Gladwell explains this idea by illustrating the methods adopted by a nurse named Georgia Sadler who campaigned to increase knowledge and awareness of diabetes and breast cancer in the Black community in San Diego. However her initial attempts at spreading her message by conducting seminars in churches failed to make any dent. So she smartly changed her tactics and started educating stylists in beauty salons to spread the message. Stylists are by nature good at communication and building long-term relationships with their customers.
Having identified the messenger, she then went to great lengths to craft a message that will stick. Sadler kept a constant cycle of new information and gossipy titbits and conversational starters about breast cancer flowing to stylists, so each time the client came back, the stylist had a new hook to start a conversation around the topic. Sadler even printed these tips and made them available to the stylists so that they have all the tips available when they want. The program was a great success.
So what are the take aways from this case study for the training department?
- Are your audience receptive to receiving training in the current setting? Is training considered a chore? Do people sign-up for training classes enthusiastically or do you resort to threat and coercion to get them on board? If your current training program doesn’t motivate a significant positive response from the employees, ask how else training can be delivered to change the interest level.
- Identify key messengers that will serve as cheer leaders for the training program. Communication is not just having a professional voiceover for the elearning courseware, it’s about the trust and relationship between the messenger and the recipients.
- Training reinforcements are the key to a successful training program. Reinforcements are NOT playbacks. Structuring incremental information dissemination works better than one massive transfer of information, the same way drip irrigation works better than flooding the field.