Context is Everything

For March, we will be spending our time looking at ORBiT. ORBiT is the process we use and highly recommend for teaching adults a new skill or developing specific skills. The reason ORBiT is the best way to train an adult is that adults want to be actively involved in the training, feel like their experience matters, receive coaching in the moment, and see a reason for learning. If any of these points are missing, your training will not be effective. 


Let’s take a deeper dive into three of the points there. “Adults need to be actively involved in the training, feel like their experience matters, and they need to see a reason for learning”. These all relate to a person’s mindset and motivation, making it hard to even know without conversing with them. Typically when someone trains an employee they either immediately start the training without having a conversation, they have the trainee watch someone else do it, or they have them watch a video. None of these allow trainees to share their thoughts or feel like they can get invested in the topic. This is why the first step of ORBiT is establishing context. I will argue that it is the most important step in training someone. 


If you do not take the time to have a conversation with a trainee and establish context on why the training is happening or what they will get out of it there will be minimal (if any) growth. 


When you are establishing context you should remember that people come to the training with questions. It is your job to answer those questions with and for them. 


These questions are:

  • What are we doing?
  • Why are we doing this?
  • How long will this take?
  • What will I get out of this?


To skip any of these questions leads to confusion and a lack of buy-in. It is extremely valuable to you and your trainees that you both have an understanding of these four questions. You need to be clear on why you would be training this skill and what you hope they will get out of it BUT it is even more powerful when the trainee explains both of these to you. This shows that they have buy-in and see the value in the skill for the organization as well as themselves. 


If you begin your training by establishing context then you can be assured that your training will be more successful and valuable to the people you are training.


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