The Only Way to Ensure Impact from Training
In our experience, organisations commission and carry-out developmental training in order to improve individual or group performance and thereby improve overall organisational performance.
This is definitely a simple and seemingly obvious definition but it is in breaking down this definition that we can build better learning and training processes.
Let's take an example from the Leadership and Management training sector (since that is what we do after all) -
“A company would like their first-line managers to be able to grow and develop the skills of the people in their team through coaching conversations. More skilled and confident members of staff should in turn lead to fewer mistakes/complaints from customers and therefore higher customer retention.”
What needs to happen in order for the company to see the benefits that they are looking for?
- The Team Leaders must learn what coaching is, what it is not, perhaps a model to use in order to coach and what coaching looks like when done well.
- The Team Leaders must be given the chance to practice and experience coaching in a safe environment where the cost of failure is minimal or non-existent
- The Team Leaders must go out and actually use these new skills effectively
- (Ideally Team Leaders will be monitored and supported to improve and further develop these skills and ensure lasting benefit)
Now the first 2 actions can be and frequently are handled in the training room and in the build up to the training, but in my experience the third step is the most difficult, the most important and the most often overlooked.
Here are a couple of methods traditionally used to encourage the use of skills after training (and how they often fail):
- Action Plans – these are lists of changes or new strategies to be implemented back in the workplace as a result of the training...they are most frequently 'filed' in bins, gigantic stacks of unrelated paperwork or simply left in their folder...only the most committed delegates will self-start on this and the others will forget about it
- Line Manager Conversations – these should occur ideally before and after training to identify goals up front and then coach and adapt on the back end to help delegates implement their learning within their roles – these are great and very powerful IF they actually happen. Companies frequently struggle with implementing this process and struggle even more when it comes to consistently following this process. It also requires line managers to have coaching skills in the first place!
So the big question is how do we actually ensure that our delegates and participants go back to their roles and put their new skills to use? In short we must commit to following up with them, which is easier said than done internally speaking, many workloads just do not allow for it.
At Nine Dots Development we use the following process to ensure that the managers and leaders that we develop really do use their new skills soon after training:
- At the end of our workshops, participants fill out a Nine Dots Challenge Form – this is a commitment to trying something new in line with the objectives of the course, such as:
- “To have a coaching conversation with 3 members of my team, using the GROW model by the end of April 2017.”
- There is always a specific challenge, a deadline and a model that will be used to help
- This challenge then comes back to Nine Dots Development and goes into our training system. Delegates then:
- Are reminded of their challenge and deadline via email
- Prompted and reminded of their deadline as it approaches
- Reminded of the content and models that will help them achieve their challenge
- Reminded of why it is important to use these skills quickly after learning them
- Most importantly, they are reminded until its complete
- Once the challenge has been completed the delegate fills in a coaching form within the reminder email that asks delegates:
- To give a general overview of what happened as they completed their challenges
- To describe how the training or which parts of the training were useful to completing the challenge
- What obstacles were faced or overcome in order to complete the challenge
- What went really well or was enjoyed
- How the outcome could be improved next time
- What the impact has been on their role and their teams' experiences as a result of the new skills
- Now that the delegate has used their new skills and reflected on the impact and results, we either:
- Provide our client with a report that anonymously shows the results of the challenges and therefore the impact that the training and new skills have had. This report will also give a clear indication of if and where further development is needed.
- OR Our team books in a coaching call with each delegate to further embed and develop their skills and really ensure that the benefits of the training are felt well into the future. (although in the interest of full disclosure this is a paid-for service)
Again, ensuring that our delegates go back to their roles and use their new skills is usually a matter of following up, and if that is not possible, then a good training provider should be able to do that for you.
In terms of ensuring that our delegates continue to use their skills long term, it is about encouraging their use long term through coaching conversations with internal coaches, line managers or again in our case using a good training provider that is setup to deliver long term solutions that give a good return on investment and have real impact on individual, team and organisational performance.Click here to download the our Challenge Sheet template