Sending your staff on training is expensive and, particularly for small businesses, can be inconvenient because you will be without those staff for the period of the training. Obviously, you hope the returns on your investment will outweigh the costs and help you to improve business performance, as well as develop your staff and enhance their job satisfaction. However, too often training delivers only a temporary improvement, without significant long-term impact. So, what’s the secret to making training and its benefits stick? Well, the answer can be summed up in one word – PRACTISE!
In this blog post we’re going to examine some ideas to help you make sure your organisation achieves long-term benefits from the training it provides.
Practise, practise and more practise… it cannot be overemphasised how important this is. We can relate this to so many of life’s scenarios:
- Did you play an instrument as a child and give it up after a while because you were not great at it? Well that could be mostly down to the fact that you did not practise your instrument.
- Did you learn French at school and get a good grade in your exam but can now barely remember the basic words? This is probably because you have not practised since your school days.
- Did you attend a training course at work and learn a new skill or technique that was promoted as a new “initiative” but end up not using it much and can now not remember any of it? That lack of practise leads to a loss of money and time that no business can afford.
In short, applying and repeating the learning is vital for it to stick and be useful in the workplace or indeed any aspect of life.
Another element that is just as vital is management support and buy-in for the training. If a client approaches us to run some training, we always make sure we have a detailed discussion prior to preparing the training to ensure that there is management buy-in for the training. What do we mean by that? Well, that there is commitment from management to really want to see improved changes as a result of the training and that they are prepared to invest the time necessary to achieve this.
For example, customer service training is a perennially popular subject. Every company can make use of good customer service training, and it should result in increased employee and customer satisfaction, loyalty, increased sales as a result of recommendations, etc. Sadly, it is misguided to think this will happen through a training course alone, even if the trainer is exceptional! There must be management buy-in and follow through for the initiative to succeed. This starts with a commitment to see change, management being involved in defining the content of the training, management attending the training and management reinforcing, guiding and encouraging its application in the workplace. If a manager does not attend the training, it sends the wrong message to the team and will not reinforce, guide or encourage its use.
There are other things that you as management can do to help. This will require some time and effort on your behalf, but you owe that to the learners as well as the company, who will have invested heavily in the training.
Some tips to help training stick
Consider implementing a regime similar to this:
- At the end of the training session, instigate a discussion about what obstacles may need to be removed to allow the new learning to be applied at work. Then brainstorm ways of overcoming these, putting ownership against the points raised. Use this in team meetings to ensure that these obstacles and any new ones are discussed and eliminated.
- Provide learners with an on-the job assignment to complete after the training back in the workplace that uses the training to help embed it.
- When observing team members who attended the training, give them instant feedback on how they are transferring this learning into the workplace. Be as positive as possible, but provide honest feedback and coaching. It is part of management’s job.
- At the first team meeting after the course, hold quizzes to refresh learners on the content of the course, Remember to make these fun to motivate the team.
- Four weeks after the course, contact participants asking them what they have done since in terms of putting the training into practice. Compile this information and send out to all course participants to encourage everyone and motivate them to achieve more.
- Arrange a follow-up course two or three months after the original course. Use this as an opportunity to assess progress, discuss problems and devise ways of solving the problems.
- Get the participants to complete a “Contract with Myself”. These contracts are collected by the trainer at the end of the course and, about 30 days following the end of the course, mailed to the learners. This works well because it is powerful for the learners to see a goal or statement in their own handwriting. Even if not all the items listed have been accomplished, it is still motivational and a good reminder. The Contract with Myself should be structured as follows:
- The first sentence starts “The most important or significant ideas that I’ve learned, thought or heard while at this……………………………… workshop are …
- The second sentence is “As a result of these ideas, I intend to do the following things within the next 30 days …
- The last sentence is “By doing these things, I will achieve the following results …”
How trainers can help
There are also many things that trainers can do to help, consider the following:
- It is very important that trainers use the right tools for each participant – everyone learns differently and you should cater for that. Have visual, auditory, kinaesthetic and tactile tools available.
- Ensure the skills being trained are relevant to your participants’ work and everyday life, this will help to ensure that you are teaching something that will last.
- Have small class sizes. This means the training can be more personal and highly tailored to the individuals.
- Ensure the training sessions are short. Short bursts of energy will enable longer retention of information. A 60/90 minute session held weekly over 6/7 weeks will be far more effective than a one day session. It will also help with attendance because participants will not need to take complete days out of the office.
- Repeat the message in the training session often so that it will stick!
- Deliver a clear training session, where the message is consistent and unambiguous.
- Motivate the learner, this can be done in a variety of ways; think of rewards you can offer inside and outside of the training environment.
- Ensure the participant is confident in the learning environment so that they will engage with the training and create a two-way learning process, which will enable them to learn so much more.
- Provide constructive feedback. If they take this on board then the training will stick, and they will become more professional.
Hopefully, this has provided you with some useful information that can be used to help training become more effective in your organisation. We have always maintained that there is no point in doing training if there are not positive returns for the individual or business. Too much money is wasted on training that does not deliver because it has not followed a process such as the one described above. As a result, training often receives a bad press from those who have not invested the necessary time and effort to make it effective back in the workplace. If you are going to do something …. make sure you do it properly.
Contact Outsourcing HR to discuss your training activities
If your training activities could do with some inspiration, contact us today for a no-obligation discussion. Simply call 07894-546333 or email Margaret Keane.