When you want to engage your employees with their training and development, it can sometimes seem like an uphill struggle. Not to worry, we’ve got just the thing to… actually… never mind.
No, really, it’s not important. Just forget we said anything.
You’re dying to know now, aren’t you!?
Sometimes, when you want to get somebody’s attention, all you need to do is drop a little hint, tease them with some juicy details and get them curious, even if it’s only slightly so.
The same is true when it comes to training and development. Employees will only become motivated to learn and improve their knowledge if they are curious and invested in the topic.[us_separator type=”default” icon=”fas|star”]
How Curiosity Works
We get curious when we encounter something new, surprising or perplexing. George Loewenstein, a professor and psychologist at Carnegie Mellon University, gives us his interpretation in his excellent article, ‘The Psychology of Curiosity: Review and Reinterpretation‘, in the form of what he calls ‘the information gap theory of curiosity’.
In a nutshell, the information gap theory of curiosity states that we get curious when we become aware of a gap in our knowledge or understanding. Such a gap induces a feeling of deprivation akin to hunger and motivates us to obtain the missing information to reduce or eliminate this feeling.
This means that there has to be some prior knowledge of the subject to have any kind of gap. For example, think of how infuriating it is when a friend says, “I have something important to tell you… but never mind”. Here, it’s not the knowledge itself that’s so alluring, it’s the gap where that knowledge should be.
Highlighting Knowledge Gaps
Once your employees know what they don’t know, they’re much more likely to seek out the training they need. But how do you highlight the gap? How do you get people interested in something which, until recently, they weren’t even aware of?
Here are 5 things you can try:
1) Ask a question or a pose a riddle: Whenever you encounter a question, you are naturally compelled to try and answer it. If that answer doesn’t land in your lap immediately, you’ll never quite feel complete until it arrives.
2) Create a sequence of events with an anticipated but unknown resolution: Murder She Wrote, Columbo, Inspector Morse – these murder mysteries are compelling, not only because of their production values and high-calibre actors, but because we know there is a culprit, and we won’t be satisfied until we know who it is. Similarly, a lot of the fun of watching a football match disappears when you know what the final score is in advance.
3) The unexpected: Did you know that American behaviourist B.F. Skinner tried to develop a pigeon-guided missile? If you’ve just had the sudden impulse to Google that unbelievable fact, you’ll see how powerful the element of surprise can be.
4) Show that other people have information: As we’ve shown, nobody likes to be the last person to know a certain fact. Sometimes you don’t even need to dish out teasers – if you can create a platform where your employees can demonstrate what they know, sooner or later, somebody will feel excluded enough to seek out the information for themselves.
5) Remind people of something they used to know: As we get learn more, the brain expends less energy on retaining older information. If you’ve ever caught a snippet of a song you haven’t heard in a while, there’s a good chance that you’ll do everything in your power to track it down – if only to get it out of your head!
How To Make It Work For Your Training
Curiosity is a powerful aspect of the human condition, but how can you leverage it in your training and development? A thorough training needs analysis can help you focus your training efforts, but If you want to highlight knowledge gaps for your employees, you need a platform on which to do it. This is where a social learning platform comes in.
On the Academy LMS, you can easily create opportunities for learners to demonstrate what they know and discover what they don’t. The prominent social feed provides a constant stream of comments from employees in all areas of the organisation. Topic-specific discussion groups also let them hone in on areas that are of particular interest to them.
If an employee logs on to find they don’t know half the things that their fellow learners are sharing and talking about, their curiosity will be sparked: they’ll be aware of the gaps in their knowledge and will work to remedy it promptly.
In this way, social learning lets you capitalise on curiosity, thereby helping to improve organisational knowledge, company culture and employee engagement. If you’re looking for ways to engage your employees with their training, click the button below to download your very own Engagement Engine Workbook!