I am always learning very valuable lessons from my two young sons (three and five years old, respectively).

They use my iPod touch to play their video games, and one day when they returned it there was a screen up that I had never seen. I asked the five year old how he got there and he said, “I just pushed the buttons.” Same thing happened with the three year old. When he returned my wife’s iPod touch, the icons were all rearranged. My wife replied, “I don’t even know how to do that.”

I laughed but then thought how important this lesson is for many people. Most of us figure out how something works to a certain point, and then we stop exploring. How many of us get the TV to work yet don’t explore all the options? Do you know what all the buttons on the remote do? Or how about the portable phones and other devices we carry? Do you know how everything works, or did you just get it up to the level that allowed you to have some functionality? Kids never stop asking why and have no prescribed notions of how things work. They just keep exploring because to them it is fun.

So, you may ask: How does this correlate to training, be it management training, sales, or customer service training? To that I answer with a question of my own: Do you just get your service level or team’s performance up to a level of functionality, or do you take the time to make sure your agents or salespeople know how to handle all situations?

Again, I hear the dissent from the field. “That would take too long…How are we to know all the things that could come up?” I can understand that initial reaction, but the training should cover what you do know – and then it needs a feedback system in place where new situations that arise are addressed and added to the training that exists.

Delivering excellent training is an ongoing process, not a stagnant, one-size-fits-all, plug-and-play session.

The most successful training programs must have the following traits to be effective:

•    Clearly defined goals for the training session;
•    A clear understanding of what the trainee knows;
•    Flexibility to adjust the program as needed;
•    A structured system for follow up; and
•    An engaging delivery of information that is fun and enjoyable.

The last two steps are very important, because the follow-up step not only makes sure the training sticks but also allows you to discover how you may have to alter training in the future. Did this experience offer any new information that affects the whole of the process? Does anything need to be eliminated? Training is a living and breathing process that has to be tended to like a plant.

Now, I can hear some people saying, “That’s all well and good, but how do you make training a person to take an incoming call or make an outbound call fun?”

That has to be the mission of the trainer. I think there are many opportunities to deliver training in a fun way, but most of all the class will take their lead from the trainer. If they see the expert struggling or not happy, then they will think to themselves, how can I ever master this skill? If the trainer presents the information as an enjoyable, ongoing process of learning and that the trainer also enjoys it, then people will go along and allow themselves to explore all aspects of the job.

This, to me, is “pushing the buttons” and going beyond one-size-fits-all training.

Dig in…investigate…open the hood up to see what you have to do to get people to learn.

Be like a child. Never stop exploring. Find that hidden screen you never knew existed.

Let me know your thoughts.

Glenn Pasch is the President of Improved Performance Solutions, found at http://improvedperformancesolutions.com. Improved Performance Solutions is a consulting firm that specializes in helping organizations improve their customer interaction. They provide the proper training to convert conversations into sales and positive customer service experiences.