Millennial generations needs in the design and delivery of training.

14322523_10154650908715832_4391318693932779514_n:Training the Generation X and Millennial generation

 How the differences between the Baby Boomer generation and the Generation X and Millennial generations impact learning and training. What we can do to make training more interesting and effective for members of the younger generations.

Think of these five needs, or five factors, as antidotes

Boomer Habits                                            Millennial Needs

Use telling, text-oriented methods                 Involve to solve

Take a linear approach                                    Offer options

Use a leisurely, even pace                               Pick up the pace

Apply a trainer-focused style                          Link to the learner

Employ a prudent amount of fun                   Turn up the fun factor

Let’s take a look at each og these five differences and suggest ways of addressing Millennial generations needs in design and delivery of training.

10522562_10152946554170832_5806779337945096730_nInvolve to Solve

Interactivity is of the essence. Younger learners crave interaction—with each other, with the material, with problems and information, with experts and people who really know. They don’t want to be told; they want to find out! This is the one factor that always comes out at the top of the list when members of the younger generation describe their ideal learning situation. Discovery learning, engaged learning, collaborative learning, and other such approaches that have been popular in schools over the last two decades focus young learners on what they want to know and how to find out—often with the help and involvement of others. Discovering answers and obtaining information on their own is something younger learners do daily and have come to expect in a learning situation. Giving them a handout of the Top Ten Customer Complaints may not be nearly as effective as letting them sort through a hundred customer complaint forms and discover the top ten complaints for themselves.

            Baby Boomer culture is basically competitive. There were so many of us as we were growing up that we fell almost naturally into a competitive stance toward most situations. We competed for our parent’s attention with our brothers and sisters. We competed for our teacher’s attention in our crowded classrooms. We competed for scholarships, dorm rooms, and part-time jobs and then moved on to competing for real jobs, promotions, and attention from the boss. Many of us are still competing as to who can look younger than they really are!  The emerging generations are far less competitive in their general approach to things. They had fewer brothers and sisters growing up and were more involved in teamwork and group projects in their school years. That’s not to say there are no competitive individuals among the younger generations or that they love to work in groups, but their general approach to the world is not an immediately competitive one.

            Connected to their less-competitive nature is the younger person’s attitude toward risk and failure. In general, they are less risk-aversive than their Boomer elders. No one wins a video game without taking risks and learning from numerous failures.

            I suggest we design training that involves the learners in solving problems connected to the focus of the training and that we allow them to explore problems and discover ways to solve those problems. This can be done through absorbing, challenging, interactive games and structured activities. Let them risk; let them fail; and let them learn on their own terms as much as possible.

14196003_10205800943656861_8056031839396348260_oOffer Options

The younger generations live much of their lives in a hyper existence, above and beyond their immediate time and place. Connected globally, interacting simultaneously in a variety of media, they multi-task their way through each day—working, learning, communicating, and playing on many channels at the same time. They are accustomed to doing more than one thing at a time. They expect options and choices and free samples. They love to pop in and out as they like.

            While Boomer learning has more or less been dominated by text, the younger generations of learners have taken in as much of their learning from graphics, sound, and physical manipulation as they have from text. Interactivity is mandatory. Learners want to literally, physically interact—with things, with people, with ideas. And they want to choose which and when.

            To progress in a video game, you must coordinate the movements of your hands and thumbs with the changing visual images on the screen and respond to a variety of changing audio cues as well. A learning environment that offers little in the way of graphics and sound and that requires almost no tactile participation stands the chance of boring young people, even if those young people are interested in the subject matter and want to learn. They are not passive learners. Action, interaction, and choice are imperative.

            As a trainer or facilitator of Millennial learners, you may need to go above and beyond what you’ve done before. You may need to rethink and redesign your approach to training to include more action and interaction, more options and choices, a variety of parallel processes, and random access to an assortment of learning alternatives. Let the learners choose the “how” of getting to the endpoint, or at least offer a variety of pathways that may be taken.

Pick Up the Pace
  Think for a moment about your own style. What is the pace or tempo of your training? At what speed do you move through the material? If you have mostly older participants, you may want to make just a few adjustments to the speed of your training. But if you have a majority of trainees under 30, you may definitely want to pick up the pace. Try to make it snappy. And there are a number of ways to do so.

            Try starting your training with a bang. Immediately begin with an involving, challenging activity—and I mean immediately. Introduce yourself and the course later. Get the learners up and doing before they can really settle in. Catch their attention and their imagination in the first 20 minutes of your program.

            Keep your delivery pace quick and lively. Do a lot less “telling” and lot more “showing.” Don’t read anything out loud. Cut back on those overhead transparencies and PowerPoint presentations or end them all together. Tighten up all group activities. Better that participants have less time to do things than more time.

Link15195989_1140922826006123_8790694217671068748_o to the Learner

If you’ve been teaching or training for a number of years, you probably have a good feel for your material and your audiences. You’ve learned what works and what doesn’t. You’ve come up with some especially good examples and illustrations. It can feel so good when you’re on a roll. You’re standing up there explaining something and you see the light bulbs go off. You make a comparison, you give an example, and they laugh, they nod, they get it!

            Then comes the day when you notice that a number of people are not laughing or nodding. They may be sitting politely waiting for you to continue or, good grief, they may be rolling their eyes and grimacing! What’s wrong with these people? Your clever analogy to Sgt. Pepper, or your pun on the famous Beach Boys song, they completely miss the target! Whoosh, over their heads and out the door. And there you stand. But most of all, talk with members of the emerging generations—your kids, your relatives, your neighbors, your students. Talk about generational differences. Ask them what they like and don’t like about Boomers. Get their input when you design training. Better yet, let them design their own training and you can facilitate them through it!

            As much as possible, customize your training programs. Be flexible and adaptable to the learners who are present at any given delivery, from any given generation. Have a variety of illustrations and examples ready so that you can pick and choose those that best fit the audience or use a variety of them for a mixed-generation group.

            Younger learners enjoy utilizing their senses. They want to see it, hear it, and get their hands on it if possible. For many years, proponents of accelerated learning have extolled the benefits of appealing to all of the senses in learning situations.The challenge is to do so in ways that engage all learners without coming across as unprofessional and cheesy.

Turn Up the Fun Factor
The more we can bring some of that level of enjoyment into the corporate classroom, the more we will have the attention and the commitment of not only our younger learners, but most likely, learners of all ages.

Have a great week,


Training the Generation X and Millennial generations

aaeaaqaaaaaaaalwaaaajgu3mzdjntfklwrkotqtndqxzc1inzk0ltbhy2iyywrhzdq3maThere is a growing generational culture gap appearing in today’s workforce, and it is becoming increasingly apparent in the world of education and training. 45 percent of today’s workforce is under the age of 40. And as these young “millennial workers” show up for corporate training programs, who do they find teaching the programs? Trainers from their parents’ generation?

            Now, there are younger trainers out there. But still, the chances are quite high that the majority of corporate training decision makers and senior trainers are from the Baby Boomer generation. And they certainly influence the design and, to a great extent, the delivery style of a major portion of corporate training.

aaeaaqaaaaaaaamiaaaajdzioddhzjy3lwu5mzytndrlnc05nzkylwi4ntawngyxnwrkmqDo Generational Differences Matter?

Your first response to this situation may be something like, “So what?” Is it really such a big deal that there is this generation gap between trainers and trainees? In fact, isn’t that the way it has always been? Those doing the teaching are older, and supposedly wiser, than those receiving the training? The answer of course is “yes, but.” Yes, in general, there has often been an age difference between those teaching and those being taught, especially when we are young. But, as adults, we often find ourselves in learning situations where the age differences lessenss doesn’t make any sense?


As the number of younger learners increases in the workplace classroom, designing and delivering training will have to be changed, updated, and, occasionally, overhauled entirely in order to be effective with the younger generations.

            And I’m not talking about changing generational reference points and outdated examples, although these are important. I’m talking about addressing generational differences in learning styles and overall approaches to learning—perhaps even generational differences in cognitive development. Although I am Millennial generation (born 1982)   our learning came through lectures and texts with an occasional opportunity to do something.  We looked to gurus and subject-matter experts to tell us the answers—or at least to provide insights.
Teaching methods have changed dramatically over the past  years also. If the last time you were in a public school classroom was well before 1980, or even 1990, check things out. The look, style, and approaches to learning have changed. Many young people from the emerging generations grew up with learning approaches that used teamwork and collaboration. They took part in engaged learning projects. They learned to use critical thinking skills. They thrived in classrooms with learning pods and subject corners and individualized options… the Millennial Generation, born between 1981 and 2000, grew up learning to learn …Their learning encounters were reinforced with sound and color and humor.      .

So what’s next?

14322523_10154650908715832_4391318693932779514_nSome trainers and designers of training settled into a very organized, linear approach to training and training design—structured, step-by-step, lecture-dominated, text-oriented, criterion-referenced, and often more focused on the trainer than on the learner. What if all your group is under 30 years ? Are you going to use the same approach? Me personally, I am changing the styles always. And really the core of my design is with who i am going to work 🙂
Here are few tips and taps

         Take the “set up” of a training program, for example. If you’ve been doing training as I have for the past ten years, the first 30 minutes of your program may be carefully devoted to establishing a good training climate—welcoming participants, making introductory remarks, presenting an overview of the class and its purpose and goals, covering housekeeping issues, and, of course, introducing yourself and then having the participants meet one another (preferably in a short, clever activity). All of this is done at an energetic, but evenly paced tempo—accompanied by the appropriate distribution of three-ring binders and a sprinkling of overhead transparencies or colorful slides.

            This approach to setting a good learning climate was established years ago, probably to deal with reluctant participants, many of whom were not happy about attending training. The idea behind the approach may have been to allay participant fears, establish the credentials of the presenter, reassure participants of the value of the course content, and put class members at ease with one another. These are important to do, and the way in which we do them may be very reassuring to older participants; but to many younger participants, it is frustratingly slow and seems quite unnecessary.

            I do not want to suggest that any one way of conducting a program is better than any other, nor am I suggesting that participants will only respond to one type and not another. I am suggesting, however, that trainers of a certain age may want to consider using different types of design and delivery techniques now and then, particularly in programs that contain a large number of younger learners.

Five Key Millennial Generation  Needs

After reading and researching what has been written about the different generations, after conducting a number of focus groups and brainstorming sessions with younger learners, and after numerous fact-finding junkets into Millennial culture, I would like to propose five key Millennial needs that can be easily addressed in the design and delivery of almost any training program to make it more appealing to younger learners. Think of these five needs, or five factors, as antidotes to five unfortunate habits of well-meaning Boomer trainers:

Boomer Habits                                        Millennial Needs

Use telling, text-oriented methods                 Involve to solve

Take a linear approach                                    Offer options

Use a leisurely, even pace                               Pick up the pace

Apply a trainer-focused style                          Link to the learner

Employ a prudent amount of fun                   Turn up the fun factor

proper-preparation-prevents-poor-performanceSo How TO Do It?

Start your training with a bang. Decrease the amount of telling and increase the amount of doing. Make the learning environment pleasant and attractive. Use rewards and incentives. Use fast, action-based games and competitive activities. But most importantly, have lots of interaction and involvement.

            Design and use games that address the five factors presented in this article. Make your games fast-paced. Offer options and choices throughout games and activities. Involve your players in finding solutions and solving problems. Try to use great graphics and include sound and movement. Whenever possible, make use of technology. Include lots of rewards and punishments. And don’t be afraid to make use of fantasy and imagination.

Where to Begin?

Take a quick look at the various classes you are teaching. Which ones have the largest enrollments of younger learners? Choose one or two and begin making a few alterations. Or choose a program that needs a real shot in the arm and design a new “<Millennial-friendly” game or activity to use at the very beginning of the program.

            Find a couple of Millennial colleagues and discuss some of the ideas and suggestions in this article. See what they think. Audit each other’s programs and exchange feedback and ideas. Make some changes. Try out some new approaches. See what happens.

            As one younger learner I know suggested, “Don’t make learning so serious. Make it fun. Make it comfortable. Have lots of food and drinks. And if I have to sit there for a long time, how about a sofa?”

Have a great Monday.