We’ve all been there…mandatory training sessions. And too often, they fail to deliver. But it doesn’t have to be this way. Most of the time, the programs are well-received by the participants and the concepts can be quite motivating. Some topics tend to open up the floor for discussions that usually don’t occur in the day-to-day work environment. But while they may generate a feeling of willingness and friendliness among the participants, they rarely create lasting change. Too often, the experience is written off as a failed expense and those who were attended and took the time to be involved look back on it as just another required class. Don't let this happen to you. I took the liberty to highlight four strategies to follow to keep the momentum. Make sure keep these four strategies in mind the next time you schedule a training program for your employees and staff:
1. Highlight and reinforce key messages following the initial training. Participants will usually give positive feedback immediately following a training session or class. This is misleading to the employer, who ends up assuming that the messages have taken hold. So the employer doesn’t follow up. Your employees and staff need ongoing communication and support to make the change permanent. Repeat the key messages during team meetings and other times of communication and provide opportunities for the participants to reflect upon the experience and share best practices with one another.
2. Hold participants accountable for what they learned during training. When you leave change to the discretion of the participants, there will likely be low rates of adoption. Those who embrace change are usually those who are already top performers in the firm. There needs to be accountability so that the rest of the participants will think you were never serious about the change and they will almost certainly revert back to their old habits and practices. Set clear expectations for the processes and behaviors that you want to change. Plan for a follow-up 60 to 90 days after the training.
3. Address barriers that may be blocking the desired change. The firm doesn’t need to solve every problem at once. But don’t fall into the victim mentality that some issues, such as staffing, workload and resources, are beyond your control. Choose one or two problems that can be dealt with quickly which will generate some visible successes. This will send a message that you are committed to change.
4. Be a part of systematic solutions. You must be the one to drive the action. However, cross-functional teams can be very effective at proposing solutions and sharing best practices. But if you decide to put teams like this into place, they will only be effective if you give them a clear purpose and you acknowledge and recognize them for their participation and effectiveness. They also must know that they are not putting themselves at risk by proposing bold solutions.
When put in the proper context and given the proper support, your training programs can be a catalyst for change. It takes a real, lasting effort to solve problems and seize opportunities.