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Training & Development

Make Training Stick Like Glue

Make Training Stick Like Glue – techniques

Lynda Ford

Executives and managers often wonder of training, “Will there be return-on-investment? Will people who attend the program actually use the tools to strengthen the organization? Will this training stick?”

Good questions, difficult answers. How do you make training stick?

Make it a PRIORITY That is an acronym that represents the critical principles in leading a learning organization. It doesn’t matter whether you’re the CEO of a major corporation or an after-school basketball coach. The foundation and principles of making training stick are the same:

Plan

Research

Inform and communicate expectations

Objectively observe

Role model

Inspire, instill, internalize

Test techniques

Yes attitude!

Planning is the first step. Its purpose is to eliminate rework–to do the right things correctly the first time. As you plan, consider these questions:

* What are the desired outcomes and key results? How will they help you and your staff move closer to the organization’s stated goals?

* Who are the people involved? What are their requirements? Are they realistic? Is some negotiation needed?

* What’s the organizational structure? Do employees report to more than one person? If so, how will you share responsibility for making training stick? Are leaders’ expectations, methods, and measurements compatible? If not, how will you handle that?

* What steps will you follow? What’s the timeframe for each step? How will you measure effectiveness?

* Can you do this on your own, or will you need outside assistance? In other words, do you have process capability?

Research takes two forms: One pertains to what you already know about your people; the other requires you to find out what others have done. That includes best practices, successes, and failures.

* What have you tried in the past that was successful? Unsuccessful?

* What sparks your employees? What actions, behaviors, or environmental factors motivate them? Demotivate them?

* Are your people motivation seekers or maintenance seekers?

* What are other organizations doing that would fit your organization? Where can you get that information?

Inform and communicate expectations. People won’t know what you want unless you communicate your expectations clearly. That can take several forms: spoken, written, or behavioral. All three modes must send a consistent message. For example, if you ask people to be on time for meetings, it hurts your credibility when you’re late.

Even if people have worked with you for a long time, it’s not their job to figure Out what you want, especially when it comes to their development.

* Tell people specifically what you’re doing. Explain your reasons and the outcomes you expect.

* Include staff in the process. Ask for their input, then use it. Refine and finalize your plan together.

* Set short- and long-term goals. Clearly define them and the milestones.

If your organization changes its direction, necessitating that your staff alter their goals, let them know as soon as possible.

Objectively observe. You’ll base your observations on the measurements and outcomes you determined during the planning stage.

* How will observations be conducted? Can you do it, or will the process take someone else?

* What exactly will you observe? Are you looking for the process or for the end result?

* How often will observations occur?

* How will you provide feedback on the observations? Also, let employees give you constructive feedback, and act on it.

Role model. There’s nothing like walking the talk; it’s the strongest message that you can send your staff. Regardless of what you say, what you do will set the stage for everyone who reports to you. Your priorities, by your actions, will become employees’ priorities. And those things that you assign low value, by your actions, will become of low value to your employees.

* Be 100 percent conscious of your movements and actions. It takes a lot of time and effort to build a reputation, but it takes only one or two lapses to lose it. What you say should always match what you do.

* Decide which behaviors you need to change or build on for appropriate role modeling.

* Tell people what you’re going to do, do it, and then tell them what you did. Sometimes your staff will need to be reminded that you are, in fact, role-modeling.

* Let your staff help you; it’s much easier to be in this process together. And it does wonders to help build your team.

Inspire, instill, internalize. Definitions according to the New Webster’s Dictionary:

* inspire. To breathe in; to infuse thought or feeling into; to affect as with supernatural influence; to give inspiration.

* instill. To put in by drops; to infuse slowly; to introduce by degrees (into the mind).

* internalize. Of or on the inside; having to do with or belonging to the inner nature of man; intrinsic.

Those definitions illuminate the essence of what we’re striving for. We are literally trying to affect and inspire, drop by drop, the inner nature of our employees. Consistency is important, and everyday actions and words weigh heavily.

Practice effective communications. Employees want supervisors to communicate information and practice values.

Test techniques. You can’t be sure whether something works unless you test it. Even though you’ve done careful research and planning, there’s an unpredictable human element. Circumstances can come together in ways that derail even the best plans.

* Be prepared to change direction, but first make sure the information is telling you that a change is warranted. Is the change needed because overwhelming data tells you that you’re on the wrong course, or is this a knee-jerk reaction to an isolated incident?

* Keep your measurements in mind. When you’re testing, those measurements should be your guiding compass.

* Know how long your testing period will last. How long will it take until you know whether you’ve been successful?

* How can you structure testing so that it doesn’t disrupt workflow? How can you involve staff in the design?

* What follow-up measures will you use once the testing period is over?

Yes attitude! A yes attitude is positive, enthusiastic, and confident. It’s filled with urgency. That urgency is what drives you and your people.

* Look for situations that would usually be considered negative. How can you turn them into positives? How can you use those situations to develop your staff members?

* Look to the source: yourself. How do you communicate information? What level of urgency do you place on developing skills? How do you balance that with workload?

* Is your perspective short-term or long-term? Let’s hope it’s long-term. If it’s not, what can you do to place yourself on that road? What tangible steps are you taking to demonstrate that to your staff?

* How are you using your influence? Are you focusing on areas in which you have control?

Make training a PRIORITY, and make it stick!

Lynda Ford is president of The Ford Group a consulting firm in Lee Center,

COPYRIGHT 2000 American Society for Training & Development, Inc.

COPYRIGHT 2001 Gale Group