Internal training: 10 steps to making a real difference

Written on Thursday 13th July 2017

So a new drug is launching, a new team is coming on board, new data is available or a new licence is coming through. We need to give our internal teams all the information they need. Right?

Well, yes, but a whole lot more as well...

Succinct Medical Communications (an OPEN Health company) provides internal training to a wide range of pharmaceutical clients; training everyone from medical affairs teams to commercial teams, to senior business leaders. We believe that there are 10 key elements which make training truly effective, taking it from simple information provision to education which drives improved performance over the long term; be it a standalone workshop or an enduring e-learning programme.

1. Understand the behaviour change we want to drive

The Oxford English Dictionary describes learning as ‘The activity of gaining knowledge or skills through study’. We go beyond this at Succinct and like to think about a more active and driven kind of learning. This is built around a desired behaviour change or performance improvement and we ensure this objective is agreed before we develop any training. What is gold standard performance and what do our teams need to do to get there?

2. Establish the learners’ needs

We should start by appreciating existing knowledge but also by assessing the confidence in this understanding. Strong knowledge with poor confidence is a big waste; poor knowledge with strong confidence can be hugely detrimental.

But there are other needs we should understand too. For example, how will e-learning need to fit around the learner’s day? How much of a priority is it? What are the technical requirements?

3. Ensure your audience is ready to learn

Cynical, demotivated learners are not in the right frame of mind to learn well. We need to excite and motivate our audience before training begins, show them how it will benefit them and build their personal desire to learn. Personalised objectives and learning milestones will help create a sense of ownership in every learner.

4. Provide high-quality content which enhances performance

So we go back to point 1. We need to build strong content which allows our learners to achieve the behaviour change or performance improvement we have set for them. And we should acknowledge that not all learners need the same information. An MSL needs in-depth scientific knowledge to have a high-level conversation with an external expert. But a Marketing Director needs focused information to help them write a strategic plan. For some audiences less is more, for others depth is key.

5. Build inspiring and engaging education

Varied formats are always needed to appeal to a range of learning styles and will keep learning interesting. Problem-centred learning makes training relevant. It is motivating to learn around real-life scenarios which have a direct link to the learner’s role. Varied educators are needed too. We get a different perspective when we gain insights from an expert clinician, nurse, carer or patient.

6. Build confidence in using knowledge in practice

Back to point 1 again… we have performance to improve or behaviour to change. So let’s practice it and feedback, and practice it again. Not only gaining knowledge, but having the chance to try using it, is what builds true confidence and therefore real and valuable change.

7. Focus on skills too

All the information and confidence in the world can only go so far. We often need to support our audiences with the skills they need to be effective, be it engaging customers, presenting, questioning or negotiating.

8. Reinforce the learning

We’ve all been to good training which is forgotten as soon as the day job gets going again. Excellent training keeps checking and reinforcing knowledge, confidence and skills and responding with additional, tailored support to maintain and improve performance all the time.

Learning communities can help build on training by providing a platform to connect individuals, who can then share ideas, and teach and inspire each other.

9. Measure everything you do

And not just participation and pass rates. We get rich and valuable information if we measure confidence rates, continued engagement, participant feedback and performance improvement.

10. And do something with your metrics

These metrics allow us to continuously improve our training, keeping it relevant, engaging and driving gold-standard performance (however we defined that at the start).

Succinct Medical Communications (an OPEN Health company) provides all aspects of internal training in healthcare from digital programmes to live events. For more information about how Succinct can drive motivation, knowledge, confidence and skills to support performance improvement in your teams, please contact Jennifer Chilver, Chief Operating Officer, Succinct Medical Communicatiosn Group