The Telephone Game Is Not the Way to Educate Staff

Telephone game is not the way to train staff

Remember sitting or standing in a circle and whispering something into the ear of the kid next to you…then watching the faces as your message was passed from person to person. The looks on each face ranged from confusion, surprise, and laughter as you all played the “telephone game.”

This picture popped into my head as I was thinking about a survey question I asked participants in a recent online webinar. The webinar was on educational tools and techniques. The attendees were primarily healthcare finance professionals—many of whom are responsible for managing one or more areas of the revenue cycle.

The survey question was, “What educational activity do you rely on most when delivering staff education?” The top two answers were on the job (OTJ) and one-on-one instruction.

Sounds to me like it could easily turn into the “telephone game” played out in our everyday work world. Don’t get me wrong, the National Training Laboratory found the average retention rate of students participating in “practice by doing” educational activities is 75%. Their study re-enforces the value of OTJ training.

However a word of caution, don’t rely on OTJ or verbal instruction as the main ‘source of truth.’ Because this same study found that only about 5% of what a student hears is retained.

Ensure you have additional educational activities and materials that are and will be used by your staff to support and re-enforce key learning concepts. This material can be in form of online courses, written procedures, video demonstration, work flow diagrams, user manuals, screenshot, job aid, etc.