How to make training stick

Monday 10 July 2017

“Look, we’ve invested in training previously and it didn’t work,’” is a comment I frequently encounter when meeting a business for the first time. In some organisations, there seems to be an expectation that 100% of the people who go on a course will return 100% better without any on-going support or continued development.

On the other side of the coin, I recently spoke to Customer Experience Director who extolled the virtues of their coaching programme, “The teams are loving it, the trainer is fun and I am hearing good things”. However, when I asked her what was the business doing to embed the learning, to track changes in behaviour and performance to ensure they’re getting a return on their investment, I received the slightly vague response,  “Yes, we are going to do some follow-up sessions in six months time to see how it was going”.

Both these situations represent a missed opportunity. To make training stick, businesses need to be clear about organisation’s long-term strategy, why the training is needed, how the training is going to be supported in the workplace and how improvements in performance will be measured.

I have outlined here my seven tips to help improve the impact of training. I would be very interested to hear your thoughts on how you improve the ROI of your training budget in your business.

Before the training takes place:

  1. The long-term strategy
    Training and developing your people should not be a tick box exercise but rather a vital tool for a business to achieve its long-term goals and be able to compete in an ever-changing world.

    Having a clear idea of the organisation you wish to be in the future will dictate your training imperatives.  This might require significant changes in the attitudes and behaviours of your people as well as gaining knowledge and expertise in new areas.
  2. Put individual skill gaps in context
    Training can be so much more effective if team members can see the bigger picture and understand how their training fits into a corporate-wide performance improvement programme. Clarity about their role in achieving these corporate objectives puts their skill gaps and personal training plan into a context – training is not a “nice to have” but an essential element of the business attaining its goals.
  3. Attitudes and mindset of your people
    The attitudes and mindset of your people can prove to be a barrier to effective learning. At Prosell, we have worked with great success to identify exactly what are the attitudes and behaviours that might be preventing particular team members from achieving the required performance levels. Once these barriers have been identified, they can be addressed.

    Following training:
  4. Make learning a daily habit
    Classroom training should be part of a blended solution of classroom, virtual, face-to-face, on-the-job and peer-to-peer sharing of best practice. Support your classroom learning, with bite-sized online modules that can be incorporated into the daily routine of your people.  Customised online learning programmes, that can be accessed on-the-go through smart phones and tablets, will help reinforce the new attitudes and skills acquired during training. Ad-hoc and planned sessions can be achieved virtually using tailored Apps.
  5. Improve the coaching skills of managers
    Ensure that your frontline managers have good coaching skills to help their teams embed the desired attitudes, behaviours and knowledge. This on-going support will help maintain the impact of the training and help your teams avoid slipping back into their old habits.
  6. Allocate enough time for your managers to effectively coach
    Often the reason given by frontline managers for not coaching team is “the lack of time”. Yet, allocating adequate time to coaching can lead to a virtuous circle of success – teams performance improves, fewer people leave, morale improves and hence training is seen to yield good results.
  7. Measure the impact of your training and coaching programmes
    Ensure you have objective measures in place to evaluate the impact of training and their return-on-investment. Good analysis will help L&D to demonstrate the role of training as an important strategic tool in achieving a business’s objectives.

Naturally, there is no quick fix to help training stick. However, with careful pre-training planning and an on-going programme post-training to embed new attitudes, behaviours and knowledge, the impact of training can be significantly improved.

For over 30 years, Prosell has been helping organisations roll-out tailored workplace training and coaching programmes to sales and customer services teams that deliver improvements in performance around the world. If you would like to talk about how to make training stick in your organisation, please do get in touch. We would love to hear from you.

Further reading
Getting more from your training programs

Aaron DeSmet, Monica McGurk, and Elizabeth Schwartz
October 2010 McKinsey

Ensure your training is effective
Training Today
Accessed 9th October 2016