Learning to Love Your Veggies -- and Employee Training

Dessert got me through the day when I was younger—probably due to the fact that my grandmother concocted the best Filipino desserts in town (though I may be a tad biased). When I was in grade school, my siblings and I would walk in the front door after a long day of schooling and be instantly engulfed by the heavenly smell of buttery brown sugar, coconut, and rice flour rising in the oven. Our mouths would water in anticipation of that evening's treat. Our obstacles? Homework, chores, and the most dreaded of all: vegetables! (No veggies, no dessert.)

Growing up, my siblings and I were forced against our will  strongly encouraged to eat our veggies—not because they were necessarily enjoyable or easy on the palate, but because they were “good for us.” Unfortunately, after one encounter with soggy Brussels sprouts, I began to associate my distaste of a single vegetable with a distaste of all vegetables. I was inclined to avoid them altogether.

Though, as an adult, I tend to carry a bit more foresight and (I'd like to think) less impulsivity, I'm still susceptible to falling into old thinking patterns. In fact, many of us unconsciously resist things that are “good for us.” Only now, it’s not just veggies. Perhaps that resistance has shifted toward exercise, seeking advice, or even training

Training vs. Veggies

Common excuses for not eating healthy usually sound something like “I don’t have time,”... “It’s too much of a hassle,” or “Pizza sounds better.” When asked to consider employee training, the excuses appear similar (just replace pizza with scrolling through Facebook). However, just as not eating healthy will quickly come back to bite me in the face (and stomach, upper arms, and thighs), not investing in your employees’ development feeds directly into your company, hurting its overall well-being.

We recognize getting your employees to engage in proper training may feel like convincing a veggie-averse child to eat steamed broccoli. So, inspired by the lessons learned throughout the years of growing more open-minded to eating veggies, we’ve put together a list of tips and tricks to help your training-averse employees do what's good for them (and the organization).

Beating the Stigma

1. Opportunity over Requirement: It’s true; training is often a standard requirement for most organizations. The caveat: no one really likes being told what to do. Instead of forcing training on your employees in the same way you’d force a child to eat their veggies, frame it as a developmental opportunity as well as a chance to make a real impact on the company. Doing so will give your employees a sense of empowerment and help them see the benefits.

2. It’s All About Presentation: It's unlikely you'll convert a child into a veggie-lover by handing them a plate of bland, over-steamed okra (if you have, please send us your secret at info@mediapartners.com). Therefore, don’t give your employees bland, overdone training. Think about your presentation as the berry smoothie into which you stealthily camouflage a handful of kale. Make it digestible and captivating as well as unique and tailored to your team. Speaking of which…

3. Consider Preferences: Most people won’t love all vegetables, but hopefully they have a few which, prepared a certain way, they do enjoy. Same goes for training—take into account different learning styles and preferences. Offer a menu of choices (video, eLearning, instructor-led, blended).

4. Use an Anecdote: Whether you're leading a session or simply trying to promote the need for training, a good story can go a long way. Anecdotes, whether personal or metaphorical, spice up your message, adding a layer of richness your team won't likely forget. Here’s a good one from Stephen Covey : A man is walking in a forest and comes upon a frustrated lumberjack. It seems the lumberjack is trying to cut down a tree with a blunt saw. When the man suggests that the lumberjack sharpen his saw, the lumberjack says that he doesn't have time to stop. The lumberjack continues with his frustrating endeavor and the man shakes his head and walks away. Had the lumberjack taken a few extra minutes to sharpen the blade, perhaps he may have finished his work faster. Encourage your employees to sharpen their saws as it will add to their diverse tool chest of skills.

Ultimately, fostering an environment where employees welcome opportunities for growth and development--one where they see the value in everything from operational and safety training to leadership development, performance management, harassment prevention, and more-- can be just as easy as learning to love veggies. It does require some time and TLC, but as with all things “good for us,” it’ll pay off in the long run. 

Training video programs offer examples that employees can relate to, and thus learn skills and behavior change. Feel free to Browse Our Training Topics, find what you need to address, find a title that may teach what you need to, and preview the program.