When I worked at a mid-sized investment firm, we were getting all kinds of requests for training – some technical, some soft skill. We decided to produce a lot of in-house training ourselves based on the requests and thought by hiring a full-time trainer we would save on the course fees and be able to customize it completely to our work environment.
This in fact, was a great decision for our organization. About 6 months in with the new trainer getting fantastic reviews on the type of training we were now providing, something for me anyway, seemed to be missing.  While training was happening, I didn’t necessarily see a link back to increased organizational effectiveness – and at the end of the day, whether or not we are providing training internally and externally – the goal has to be just that – an increase in organizational effectiveness. Nothing more, nothing less. We all get busy in our day-to-day lives and often find it easier to revert back to what’s easy rather than go towards the discomfort of actually implementing a new skill.
It takes a lot of discipline as well as support to change your old behavior into something more desirable and effective. That said, for any business, be it large or small, management has to believe in the training and continuously follow-up with the employee to ensure they are following through on the new skills. Even something as simple as sending an employee to an Excel training class: without ever giving them a project to implement the Excel training in, it’s guaranteed in less than 30 days they will have lost and/or forgotten most of the skills they have learned.
Here are some quick tips business owners and managers/supervisors can implement after they have sent someone to training:
BEFORE THE TRAINING – Make sure you and the trainee sit down and determine what items need to be learned. Most courses come with agendas, set your expectations for the training so they go in knowing what they should be paying attention to most.
RIGHT AFTER THE TRAINING – meet again with the employee to see what they have learned. Talk about their challenges, likes and dislikes. I recommend you do not wait too long to have this meeting after they have returned to work. This is important as details tend to become more muddled as time goes on.
ASSIGNMENT – now that they are back, they have indicated what they learned, it’s time to put them to the test. If you sent them to a course on how to run effective meetings, encourage them to run meeting X. If you sent them to a leadership training course, ask them how they are going to start implementing the training – typically we all have those people that we struggle with in the work setting;- ask them how they are going to take a leadership role in that relationship and watch for results.
FOLLOW-UP – after they have demonstrated the new skill in some form or fashion it’s important that you follow-up. Even asking a simple question, like, “What are you still implementing today?” they will know you are serious and want them to utilize the skills they have learned. This should be done at least monthly – but remember, this can all be done informally! It’s just important you do it. If you’re investing big money into your employees – it’s important you know why you’re spending those dollars. If you don’t see value in it – chances are, neither will they. Or they will for the first week, and then they will revert back to old habits without you mentoring and coaching them to success. Learning new things takes repeated practice before it becomes habit.

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