Experiential training is the use of training methods to develop behavioral skills. These sensitively planned training programs include activities such as role play, on the job training (OJT), equipment simulations, games, behavior modelling, and case analysis.
Unlike theory-based training methods which are one-sided, experiential training involves a two-way interaction. The aim of these programs is to go beyond the transfer of information and develop the necessary skills in the participants.
A powerful training program is a blend of both information and experiential training methods. It imparts theory-based learning, while also inculcating behavioral changes in the participants through practical exercises. This combination makes training educational yet interesting.
A few commonly used experiential training methods are:
- On the Job Training (OJT): This method is used for the purpose of imparting new skills to the employees. Apprenticeship and job rotation are common ways of developing new skills within employees.
- Equipment Simulators: This method involves the creation of real life situations/conditions that allow employees to experience the work world, thereby preparing them for it. It is often used to develop physical, and behavioral training. Although this type of training is highly-effective, it is costly. NASA uses simulators to train astronauts for outer space conditions.
- Case Study: This is the most frequently used tool for promoting interpersonal skills while also enhancing decision-making and logical-thinking abilities. It is an excellent and cost-effective tool for developing problem-solving skills within the team. The only drawback is the lack of updated case studies. Generally, one or two cases are discussed every year and seldom do they get updated.
- Role-playing: A role play is used primarily to bring about a change in attitude and help people see things from a different perspective. It may also be used to practice specific jobs, behavioral skills or for dissolving interpersonal problems. This type of training is reality-based. The only disadvantage is that the employees may exhibit hesitation in role-playing situations or may even take it perilously.
- Sensitivity Training: Sensitivity training is imparted to increase self-awareness in the employees. It helps employees to see themselves through the eyes of others. Such type of training is used to improve the self-worth of the employees and also for changing interpersonal behaviors. More importantly, it can clear out negativity from the organization. Many organizations use this training method for the top management.
Many organizations also use computer-based instructions to provide experiential training. The use and relevance of the method is highly dependent on the kind of competency being targeted. In conclusion, experiential training is an excellent way to ensure the transfer of learning as it involves active participation from the employees.