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How can I make systems training more “fun”?

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I work as a trainer for a mortgage company & it is our team's job to train the staff to process client's applications.

The problem that seems to keep cropping up is that systems training is so boring & delegates lose interest easily.

Does anyone have any suggestions on how to make it more "fun" or better still more engaging so that delegates will remain interested & focused?
James Smith

9 Responses

  1. Downstream Impact
    James
    I don’t know if this is quite what you had in mind but…..

    I worked with a team who processed applications through a fairly complex journey from inception to completion. The problem was that each step was pretty straightforward in itself and the folks had become complacent (the comment made was that a trained monkey could do the job…it wasn’t taxing).

    I got them to map the whole process in the traditional manner (which they found really useful in its own right)and then posed questions such as “What is the impact if this step is done wrong?”, “What is the impact if this step is delayed?”. I got them to think about the answers not just in terms of the impact on the process and themselves but on realistic customers as well.

    I didn’t have to ask them how they would feel if they were the customer….it just dawned.

    Your situation isn’t identical but perhaps if you can highlight the VALUE of pressing that button in this sequence, or inputting that data accurately it will add life to the system?

    Hope this helps
    Rus

  2. Are you having fun..
    Training is about development and moving onto another level. When we have had to undertake systems training we get general information from the delegate about themselves before the course and then we use it as examples within the course – also we give them some responsibility to make the course fun. Depending on the size of the group we play check your memory games, where the team or individual wins a prize etc. Or each person get an envelop that has a question that they open near the end… but time is important. Most of all we as trainers must also get some fun out since we have to keep repeating the same subject matter over and over again.

    P

  3. Fun or Work?
    I’ve spent years trying to be innovative and to provide interesting and challenging training and teaching. Some times it’s worked and some times not.

    I’ve also worked for a mortgage processing centre with 3,000 people. The mortgage processing process is a purely processing job that becomes boring very quickly. That’s the reality of that type of work.

    When people are learning systems training, do they really have to have “fun” or do they need to learn how to do their work? If they can’t stand a few hours, days or whatever doing some focused processing, how will they every survive for months or years doing the very same thing?

    Some of the strategies I’ve used include “races” between groups; changing chairs with the person next to them at intervals (this is good for getting them capable of picking up where others left off and has an educational value as well as a fun value). Other times we’ve run elimination bouts; timed exercises where the fastest processors are those left standing (or sitting).

    We used an image of the live system for our training that could be set at any stage of the mortgage processing process. Later in my time training processors, I thought that getting down to do the work and forgetting the fun was more productive and that the games were a diversion from the core tasks.

  4. systems training
    James,

    Two sets of thoughts come to mind about the need to make your systems training more fun.

    The first is a question, is the job of processing clients’ applications also boring? If this is the case then maybe giive attention to making the job more fun and engaging first. And the people who could help you with this would be the staff who are already doing the job. Involve them in the process of redesigning how the job can done to make it more interesting.

    If the job isn’t boring and it is the training which sends them to sleep, then consider the training approach. Possible alternatives are, a learning-by-doing simulation of the application processing (which can also highlight potential improvements), a lively inter-group quiz with speed and movement built in, mapping the stages of the process themselves (which Rus has suggested), or a relevant combination of these. You also have the option of involving existing and experienced staff in the training (and giving your team a rest), and on the job coaching.

    Let me know if you would like more details. john.teire@virgin.net

    good wishes,

    John,

  5. Thanks
    Many thanks for the responses folks – there are some good ideas there.

    Keep them coming!

  6. Learning? Fun? Whatever next?
    James

    Whatever next? You will be wanting people to enjoy their jobs soon!

    I have, for many years now, been working with systems and process trainers developing them to turn ‘dry’ training into interactive learning. I have even written a pocketbook about the topic, which I would be happy to let you have a copy of with my compliments.

    You might also be interested in our learning methodololy ‘ELF’ which has just gained recognition by the Institute of IT Training in the form of one of our Trainers, Michelle Mook, being awarded the Trainer of the Year award last week.

    If you would like to try out our Wings questionnaire, let me know and I can send it to you.

    Got loads of ideas, tips and tricks if you want to discuss.

    Jooli Atkins
    Matrix FortyTwo

  7. Although I agree …
    With some of what Robin says below, I cannot agree that fun and learning should be separated. I totally agree that games for the sake of them are a waste of time and should never be used, but having fun as an integral part of the learning is a very useful way of ensuring that the learning sticks.

    Please don’t dismiss fun because people abuse the concept and don’t link it to the learning outcome.

  8. ROLF Training
    Have you looked at the ROLF training approach (link below) My trainers have just undergone training on this approach and found it very exciting and fun, even though games are not part of the training, the transferrence of learing thorugh peer to peer learning is great.

    http://www.thefourthlevel.com/

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