How to make team training more enjoyable—and effective.
Training is often perceived as necessary, but dull. And retention tends to be very low, especially from standard lectures.
“Typically about 85% is what we call ‘scrap learning,’ because it is not retained,” says Julie Nash, a practice management consultant and owner of Practice Moxie. “Smart people often think that just by saying it, people will get it. This happens with doctors a lot. But that couldn’t be further from the truth.”
To help your team remember the material, Nash suggests incorporating games. “Games provide repetition and revisit the information in an interesting way, which enhances retention,” she says.
When information is revisited, neurons fire repeatedly and form connections that consolidate into long-term memories, she explains. And emotions such as enjoyment and excitement cause the release of dopamine, which stimulates memory-building. “The act of laughing actually increases people’s retention of the target material,” says Nash.
Games are also great for team-building and provide a useful tool to check for retention of key concepts, she adds. “If people can’t answer the questions, then obviously they don’t get it,” she says. “That immediate feedback is helpful. The games will tell you.”
Nash has spent countless hours developing games that work well in veterinary training. Here are two of her faves:
Order a customizable Jeopardy quiz game built in PowerPoint and a four-pack of multicolored answer buzzers (both readily available online), and you can create multiple trainings on any fact-based topic (parasites, client service, medical standards, your standard operating procedures). “Once you have the game, it takes about 30 minutes to change the content around,” says Nash. “And people have the most fun ringing those dang buzzers. They love to compete.”
- Divide your group into four teams of two to six people. Give each team a buzzer.
- Let the participants decide up front if they have to answer in the form of a question, and whether they can buzz in before you’re done reading the questions. Providing choices enhances learning, Nash says.
- Use a projector and screen or a Smart TV to ensure that everyone can clearly see the questions. “The visual element is very important,” says Nash. “People can’t answer the questions if you just read them out loud.”
- Include a final slide with a list of “prizes,” using things everyone will get anyway. (For example, a chance to play Jeopardy again in the next training, or a list of employee benefits for onboarding trainings.)
- Provide gift cards or other small prizes for the winning team.
Safety Scavenger Hunts
Divide employees into teams of four people. Give them a list of 20 safety-related items and 16 minutes to email in a photo of themselves with each item. “It’s experiential learning, and they do really silly stuff together,” says Nash. “It’s fun to review the photos together at the end. People often tell me they were dreading the safety training but ended up loving it.”
Nash’s online VHMA Certificate Course on veterinary team training includes a section on “gamification.”