We're heading into another round of training, and frankly, I'm dreading it. The same thing happens every time. For a week or two afterward, everyone is focused on what has to be done, then it begins to slip— first one person, then another, until we're right back where we started, except for the several thousand training dollars we used to have. What's the trick to make training stick?
- James L.
Since you didn't describe any post-training processes, I'm guessing there aren't any in place—and there's your problem. Training without follow-through is just an opportunity to eat donut holes and cultivate your coffee breath. This week's column is all about follow through. I hope it's helpful!
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Follow Through to Get a Big Bang for Your Training Buck
One semester in middle school, we had the option of taking a bowling class for gym. And I remember clearly, as my ball headed into the gutter time after time, that the instructor kept harping on one thing: "Be sure to follow through."
Follow through? Why? It never made a lick of sense to me. Once the ball is out of my hands, what difference does it make what my arm does?
Finally I got sick of scoring in the low peanuts every game and thought I'd try it. I let the ball go and allowed my arm to continue in a perfect arc.
I can still hear the sound of that strike.
According to the American Society for Training & Development's Benchmarking Forum, the average annual expenditure per employee in the most successful and productive companies is 15-25% higher than the average for companies overall. That's a MUCH higher investment in training by companies that are successful.
Coincidence? You wish.
Training provides the best ROI of any investment you can make in your business, period. But there's something else those high-performing companies do—they follow through after the training is complete. The best way to get results from your training dollars is to expect and measure immediate application of what is learned. Measurement and celebration of the results from the training program need to start within 24 hours of a session or the application of the learned material drops like a stone.
It's always easy to guess which things in a company are measured and audited: It's the things that people actually DO and do well. If you want something done with fairly strong consistency, set measurable benchmarks.
Setting benchmarks is not enough, of course. Don't forget to put systems in place to see whether the benchmarks are being met. If a standard is measured in the forest, and no on is there to audit it—does it make a difference? No way. Why should it?
It comes down to this: When you work with a training consultant, make sure they don't pull up stakes and head for the hills five minutes after the last session is over. Good training ALWAYS includes a specific, detailed follow-up plan—or it's not training. It's flushing.
Three Tips for Solid Post-Training Follow-Up
- Get a commitment. Training that doesn't include a solid commitment to change is not really training—it's a bunch of suggestions. Follow-up begins when the training concludes with a firm, look-me-in-the-eyes commitment from each and every person in the room.
- Put systems and benchmarks in place. If it can't be measured, it can't be assessed and tracked, and it WILL NOT IMPROVE. Figure out which quantifiables are relevant as measures of success or failure in the training objectives, track them like a bloodhound, and tie them into individual objectives and the company's own goals.
- Coach and celebrate. When goals aren't met, coach like mad to bring people into compliance. When goals are met, celebrate! Not just at the end of the project, quarter, or year, but at every small step along the way. Nothing solidifies a process of positive change like some fist-pumping, high-fiving celebration of a job well done.
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