When employees return to the workplace after training, the environment must reinforce learning.
I had just finished the last training session. The HR director praised the delivery and content, but as he put it, “There was no ‘magic bullet.’” He said he hoped that employees would leave the training and immediately behave differently. I should point out that this was after a total of seven hours of training, over four weeks, on three topics. We had discussed in advance what I am about to share with you, and sadly, the support back on the job was not there.
Walking away, I realized that we really are a get-it-now, get-it-done, drive-through mentality society. I wonder how many managers believe that training is just something you schedule and conduct; participants complete an evaluation, and then go back into the workplace and improve their performance. But what leaders need to realize is that the training is just the very beginning of a process, and that process has to be managed.
When that learner returns to the workplace, what is going to be different to help them reinforce training? What’s required are dedicated, determined professionals who spend their energy and effort to support learning, tie it to performance management, and then implement change initiatives consistent with the training.
Some of the things I regularly hear in training sessions include:
- “I don’t know why I’m here.”
- “Nothing is going to change when I return.”
- “My boss won’t let me do that. I wish they would delegate to me. If I fail, this is a lesson I will remember learning!”
- “Throw me into a project, I will learn on the job.”
- “I value group discussion. I wish we had more time to brainstorm as a team.”
Who is responsible for the enforcement of learning? Once the trainer goes away, the manager’s job is to coach, praise and redirect, according to what the employee has learned. What are some ways to engage learners back on the job?
- Encourage them to train another team member on the information they learned, and formulate recommendations based on the class.
- Assign them a mentor to provide topic-specific support.
- Inquire as to what was covered in their training and ask them what they learned.
Finally, ask them to:
- Share key learning points they believe can benefit the group.
- Write a news article for your company newsletter or website.
- Solve a real problem by focusing on what they learned.
- Lead a forum for an exchange of ideas based on what they learned.
- Challenge what they learned and research any suggestions or ideas they were not sure about.
Only when employees are sent to training with a well-defined purpose and then return to an environment in which the structure, process, accountability and rewards support learning, will there be a “magic bullet” from training. iBi
Lisa Plantamura is a professional trainer and manager of workforce learning and organizational development at AAIM Employers’ Association.