Organizations today are witnessing a huge rise in the number of Gen Y employees (also called the Millennials; birth years ranging from the early 1980s to the early 2000s). In fact, according to Pew Research Center, almost every third American employee is a Millennial.
These Millennials have grown up in the lap of technology and are adept at embracing the latest gadgets and technological advancements. They have a natural aptitude for games, a healthy competitive spirit and very short attention spans. They also have to deal with a whole new gamut of health and psychological issues such as sedentary lifestyles, extreme peer pressure and depression, to name a few.
Add to this mix the inherent challenges of the sales force – tight deadlines, exhaustive product lists, huge amounts of information to be retained, aggressive sales targets, huge territories to be covered, highly informed customers – and you will get an idea of the conditions under which the Gen Y sales force needs to operate.
If they are to beat these factors and emerge victorious, they need continual knowledge reinforcement. One-off training interventions and bulky product manuals won’t do the job; even lengthy e-learning courses fail to engage learners and render knowledge transfer ineffective.
Training interventions meant for the Millennials will be effective only they are personalized to suit their sensibilities. The flexibility of Micro learning offered by e-learning makes it a very good training mechanism for Millennials.
Let’s see how micro learning addresses the needs of the Gen Y sales force:
E-learning supports the development of micro modules, each of which is self-standing, comprehensive, focuses on 1-2 learning points, and exceeds not more than 10 minutes. These learning bytes are a very effective medium of addressing the dwindling attention span of the Gen Y sales force.
Short, crisp online modules facilitate maximum knowledge retention and offer learners the scope to assimilate knowledge, internalize it and apply to their jobs. When developed in accordance with good instruction design principles, these online modules can pack lots of information visually and help employees retain a lot of information in a very short span of time, compared to boring PDFs and manuals.
Provide Ease of Access
E-learning, through micro learning offers a two-pronged benefit. First, Gen Y love gadgets and are always using the latest releases. E-learning courses being multi-device and multi-browser compatible can be accessed from any device – PCs, Laptops, Mobiles, Tablets, iPads, Smartphones – and on any browser.
Second, sales people are always on the move and as such, can’t afford to be tethered to their desks and complete a training module when their presence is required at the client site. In this scenario, multi-device and multi-browser compatible micro modules come to their rescue. Sales people can access these modules on-the-move, at their convenience, even when travelling to meet a client, or while waiting for them.
Provide Just-In-Time Support
Micro modules can be used very effectively to provide just-in-time support to sales people, especially on complex topics such as product demonstrations, comparisons with competitor product specs, etc.
Assembly, repair, replacement, and disassembly procedures are often quite complex and difficult to reproduce from memory. Similarly, given the wide range of products, it is extremely hard – if not impossible – for sales people to know how exactly each specification of each product is different from that of competitors.
Here, micro modules can be leveraged to offer just-in-time support. You can have a series of modules where one deals with product assembly/disassembly, another on repair and replacement procedures in the form of short videos.
Yet another module can present a comprehensive comparison of a particular product (each specification) with that of competitors’ products in the form of Flash Cards, using visual cues, etc.
These online modules can be accessed by the sales force at the point of need, thereby maximizing the impact of training.
These micro modules can also contain just precise information such as replacement procedures and provide auxiliary information (such as the number, type, and sizes of each spare part available) as downloadable PDFs and Word documents. These job-aids can be downloaded by learners and referred when needed. They thus supplement learning and avoid the need for searching through huge product manuals.
Test Knowledge through Games
Micro modules can also be used to test Gen Y on what they’ve learnt through their favorite medium –games. Since product data is highly technical and detailed, fun assessments reinforced with proper feedback will further facilitate knowledge retention.
For example, instead of having a routine drag and drop or matching assessment to test learners on product features, the same can be designed as a match the tiles game. Providing a Leaderboard will go a long in cultivating a healthy competitive spirit and motivating Millennials to do better and beat their peers.
Online micro modules are best suited to meet the diverse needs of the Gen Y sales force, right from capturing their attention to imparting knowledge on the move to providing auxiliary support and testing knowledge. So the next time you have a product training program, try out micro learning and experience the goodies it has in store.
Though micro learning is still in the nascent stage, it is being adopted by organizations across the world for its ease of use and impact on learning. In 2015, IBM introduced the micro learning mobile app ‘Snappico’. As the name suggests, the app offers micro learning cards on a wide range of topics – one card per day – and is currently available only for iPhones.
Videos are yet another great way to use micro learning. In fact, TED, the global platform for sharing ideas, has been doing this since long and has a huge repository of animated videos on a wide range of subjects.
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