Your Employees Want to Learn: Juho Toivola Talks About Successful Training

What makes a successful training? Let’s first remind ourselves that your employees want to learn and grow; 94% of employees say they would stay in the same company longer if the company invested in helping them learn. HUONE interviewed Juho Toivola, an award-winning recruitment trainer and organizational psychologist, to find out what managers could focus on to create better trainings for their employees.

Juho has a wide range of experiences from employer branding and talent acquisition management in large organisations such as Finnair and Elisa. He describes himself organisational psychologist, a person who focuses on the behaviour of employees in the workplace. He tries to translate the knowledge, about how people think in different situations and contexts, into inspiring insights and actionable frameworks.

In this interview, you will learn:

  • Juho’s expertise as an individual trainer
  • Juho’s definition of successful training and key things to focus on
  • how the pandemic has affected the role of a trainer, and how trainings are conducted
  • Future of organisational trainings

What are you focusing on mainly now?

At the moment, my focus is on two companies: being a recruitment trainer and a consultant through my own company, and newly founded Asselmointi, which is a personal assessment company. In Asselmointi we provide high-quality assessments by qualified psychologists, which bring valuable insight for the organisation’s recruitment decisions.

Covid- 19 pandemic has affected how business meetings such as training are conducted. How has it been for you as a trainer?

Last year spring, everything had stopped. Luckily though, I work in areas (recruitment and training) that are important to companies and my work has been picking up. One of the major changes was the ratio between the remote and on-site trainings. Suddenly I was doing 80% virtual trainings, compared to 20% before Corona. 

How would you define a successful training?

One can approach a successful training in various ways. I focus on what happens as a result of the training. As a trainer, I wish a person (who had been in my training) would be able to implement new learnings successfully in ones’ daily work life. Obviously, it will take time after the training for this to be clear.

For your training to be successful, what are the key thing(s) you focus on?

Being able to get away from your work routines is key, hence, surroundings matter. Especially in virtual and hybrid settings, this is a challenge because the training is conducted on the same screen where one’s everyday work is. In order to really separate the training from the daily tasks, you have to create a separate space for the training. A space where you take the participants and set them in a different mood for the training.

Also, rituals such as having breakfast are important. Taking that relaxing time in the morning will help to set the mood and start the day in the right setting. In other words, it creates a mental transition from one’s daily routine to the upcoming training. Starting the training first thing in the morning is a good choice, so no meetings are scheduled before the start of the day. Both transitions to the training and from it, are important in creating a successful training. Also, it is always good to avoid any distractions during the day.

As a trainer with a background in psychology, I focus on how people feel and think. I try to avoid thinking too much about how I as a trainer feel. Instead, I want to be there in the moment for the participants and their needs. Sometimes, when I ask participants what challenges do they have and trying to solve, they start to wonder whether they actually need to start working now, when they just came here to listen and get inspired. Focusing and participating in the day is sometimes challenging for participants if the expectation is to just listen.

If I could choose any format for a training, I would have retreats for a week. My understanding of the adults’ learning process is that it requires time, reflection and pondering. Unfortunately, in today’s world, the time organisations reserve for trainings tend to be short. Half a day is nowadays considered luxurious. This is understandable in times of efficiency. I like two-day training, they are clearly better for learning. Participants can sleep overnight and process what they have learned. I would really want to see more of ‘slow learning’, modern luxury in organisations’ trainings.

Juho Toivola HUONE Kamppi Parakki huone                                       Juho Toivola training in HUONE Kamppi Barracks room.

How do you feel about virtual/hybrid settings?

It always requires more planning to arrange a virtual- or hybrid event, it’s a bigger operation. A bad or mediocre one is easy to do. You just go into a space, put the camera on and say this is hybrid. If you want to have a great one, you must put in more effort and time. You often need a bigger team and technical know-how. One example is to have one dedicated person to only facilitate the remote participants. I would always choose on-site training over virtual ones. Not just for the final outcome but for the experience.

How do you see trainings in the organisation happening in the future?

I aim to be one of those people who always try to look ahead to what is coming and think about the future. I’d like to share what organisations should do to stay ahead in the game. Knowledge is a commodity nowadays. Trainings are no longer about presenting knowledge, because anyone can easily find it from the internet. Trainings are more about an opportunity to take a moment in the midst of daily working; it’s about a place for reflection and time for thinking over things.

Another important aspect in a training is the group, other people to reflect with. I believe it to remain important in the future.

For a training, it is also important to provide the right environment, social surroundings, and reserve proper time. I have noticed that people need encouragement and a boost of self-confidence. Thus, cheering people on is one function of a training, ‘yes, you know this and you know enough for you to be able to start doing’.

Training business will surely be more fragmented. The power of academic degrees will diminish and people will be qualified with shorter trainings. Moreover, new developments and changes around the world will affect the future of trainings: more new learnings will be required and ways of learning will be diversified. In Finland, the need for trainings will not decrease as Finn’s perception towards trainings is positive.

Three things for a successful training:

  1. Remember that your employees want to learn and grow. The meaning of trainings in the organisations is undisputable.
  2. For a training to be successful, one must reserve the time for it. Setting aside the time just for one thing is hard in the world of ‘efficiency’. However, in a long run, it is worth it. There will be more time to process and adapt the learnings in your worklife.
  3. Remember to offer suitable training surroundings together with time. And remember the importance of the transition to the training and away. Eliminate distractions and take participants away from their daily tasks.

All the trainings by Juho (in Finnish) @HUONE: juhotoivola.fi/kurssit.