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Teaching Adults


In today’s current economic environment, companies have become selective in the training programs they select. They choose programs that will give employees immediate skill and knowledge which needs to be utilised immediately. They want a ROI. They want results.

To achieve this, trainers need to be flexible in their approach, the strategies, techniques and methods they select to motivate employees. They need to understand what the needs of the company and employees are, what the results the company expects, what the employee should be getting out of the training.

To ensure that these results are achieved, the trainer must create the right learning environment that will motivate the employee to learn. Without such motivation, learning will not take place and the training becomes a non-entity.

1.     Self-Learning:

Whatever a person learns – he/she learn themselves. No one can learn for them. People process information differently and therefore differ in the way they learn. To ensure effective training, a facilitator must manage the learning situation so as to create the best conditions to allow the learner to learn for themselves. A variety of skills are therefore required from the Trainer to meet these needs.

2.     Knowing what is Expected:

When people know what is expected of them, they are able to grasp concepts more effectively. The first duty the trainer must perform is to clearly define the specific objectives the trainee should achieve, namely, the overall course objective and the module objectives. It  becomes easier to coach and give feedback once these objectives are clearly outlined.

3.     Turning Knowledge into a Skill:

When a trainee is motivated, he/she will apply what they have learnt faster and retain the knowledge for longer periods. To motivate, we need to turn our attention to the trainee’s needs, rewards and motivation. Some of the needs are:

•  Satisfied Needs: 

This is not a motivator need. This theory is a propensity, once a basic need is achieved, the learner becomes motivated to develop more in a specific area and looks for a higher need and thus growth and development starts to take place.

•  Anxiety Needs:

This is associated with fear of failure. This can occur when a facilitator/company threatens punishment if the trainee fails to achieve the prescribed standard. Mild anxiety can be a motivator but if it is too intense it will interfere with the learning process. For example, having them write tests, being kept late, the threat of career changes, uncomfortable role-plays or exercises that are not relevant to the training, etc. This need can be associated with Maslow’s need of safety and security both physically and psychologically. This can also have a negative effect towards the training itself.

•  Need for Learning Companionship:

This includes friendship, belonging within the group, teamwork, helping others and being helped. Some people become reliant on learning within a group. This can be initiated with group discussions, case studies, etc.

  • Need of Approval:

The need for self-respect, self-esteem and ego. Some people seek approval in the form of esteem or status from their peers. They may study for degrees or diploma’s, not for the knowledge, but the status the certificate carries.

• Curiosity and Achievement Need:

This compares to Maslow’s need for self-actualisation. A person may strive for the actual success of the training rather than what the success can bring.

The success of any training depends on the type of motivation the learner needs. Just as people differ in their needs so should the motivation for training be unique to the individual.

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