Have you ever found yourself mindlessly singing the jingles from advertisements and wondered why your brain easily recalls that, yet every time you want to roast your Thanksgiving turkey, you need a recipe?
Advertisers have long known that one of the best ways to build brand loyalty is to make it sticky. Jingles and short and engaging slogans are super sticky as they earworm into our brains for later recall. Why can’t training be like that?
After the great resignation that followed the pandemic, many hotel sales managers faced increased turnover. Teams had to be rebuilt, often with eager new workers who were either new to their positions or new to the company. With this lack of experience, training became not just important but necessary. In fact, the dollars devoted to training employees have increased each year since the start of the pandemic despite the dramatic cuts that some industries have faced.
Unfortunately, training today is more complex than it ever has been before. Today’s workers face greater challenges for their attention with the increase in remote and hybrid work environments. Gone are the days of gathering the team in a conference room to spend a day dedicated to training. Now employees are at home logging into Microsoft Teams or Zoom to watch a training presentation. Many are distracted by their email, text messages, social media, and often pets or young children. Research shows that the average person receives over 300 alerts that are non-work related between 9 am and 5 pm. Layer in the alerts from work-related emails and messaging platforms, and that number quickly doubles or triples.
For those lucky enough to gather face-to-face, similar challenges occur as the attention of attendees can be distracted by alerts on their phones, laptops, and smartwatches. How is a supervisor or trainer supposed to win the battle for attention when their competition is Twitter, Instagram, and even Tinder? We must learn from our friends in advertising!
Micro-learning is a popular approach to training that emerged in the middle of the last decade by the training teams at SaaS companies. Micro-learning builds upon how adults, especially young adults who grew up in the internet era, prefer to consume media in “byte-sized” pieces. The mantra of micro-learning is simple, “If the video is longer than what you would be willing to watch on YouTube or TikTok, it’s too long.”
In other words, micro-training videos are short, usually no more than 3-5 minutes, and each video covers one learning objective. Yes, just one. Not one objective with a bunch of potential ideas on how to apply it afterward or an objective that is so broad that it covers all the features of a tool. One learning objective that teaches you how to do one thing.
Often micro-learning contains catchy music, a phrase or meme, or a pneumonic device. Taking this tip from advertising, the approach makes you feel something (humor, entertainment, maybe even annoyance), increasing its memorability. They create an engaging learning experience that is sticky. Sticky information acts just like advertising jingles. It’s easier to recall and implement, leading to quick results. The goal is for the learner to log off the micro-learning video and immediately be able to use what they learned.
The best micro-learning videos follow the basic structure of “What? So what? and Now What?” They present a concept (the “What?”), and then they explain why this concept is important (the “So what?”). They end by showing the user how to put the new information into action (the “Now What?”). This format has proven to be exceptionally effective in training and all communications. In their new book, Smart Brevity, the founders of Axios, Jim VandeHei, Mike Allen, and Roy Schwartz, share how this communication style has increased not only the effectiveness of business communications and training but also popular news media and even CIA briefings.
SaaS trainers curate playlists of micro-learning videos in a suggested order. Still, the learner is free to search for the needed topic and watch the videos in whatever order they please. Micro-learning puts the learner in control of their learning journey and allows them to come and go from the learning library via a Learning Management System (LMS).
Training the Post-Pandemic Workforce
Micro-Learning has also begun to be applied to live training opportunities with great success. To build the skills of a team, managers or trainers include micro-learning in team meetings. The leader teaches one new concept or skill to the team, shares why it’s essential that the employees embrace the idea, and gives actionable steps to use this information today. This simple coaching structure has shown great dividends as we upskill the post-pandemic workforce.
Micro-learning can be produced quickly and inexpensively compared to traditional training videos, whether in person or online. When best practices are followed, they become sticky like good advertising jingles, as they bridge the gap from learning to action and produce results.
So, the next time you have the need to educate your hotel team on a new process, concept, technology, or hotel offering, consider using micro-learning. Make sure your vendors and partners are taking this approach to get your sales and operations teams up to speed faster than traditional training methods.
Try it yourself! Set up your cellphone and record yourself sharing the “What,” “So What,” and “Now What.” Give it a sticky schtick with a funny meme, phrase, or jingle. Explain how you expect the team to put the information into action. Then, email it out or work it into your next team call. Watch your team laugh a little, embrace the information, and put it to use.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jessica joined the Knowland team to lead the Customer Success efforts in the winter of 2020. She and her team are responsible for the creation of the record-setting Knowland Academy customer education site. With a background in theatre and education, she has developed and facilitated HR compliance, leadership development, and job skills training for both the non-profit and for-profit sectors. In addition to trying to improve the quality and enjoyment of training at companies such as Freedom Partners, IBM, and the US Foreign Service Institute, Jessica has led the Customer Experience teams at Envision and WorldStrides, before venturing into the hospitality industry at Knowland. Jessica has a BS in Theatre Education from Ashland University and an MBA from American University. She lives in the D.C. suburbs with her husband, baseball-obsessed 10-year-old son, and two rambunctious puppies.