Training Reinforcement

Jeff McLanahan
Contributing Writer

Zig Ziglar said, “People often say that motivation doesn’t last.  Well, neither does bathing, that’s why we recommend it daily.”

While training does last, when conducted in an effective manner and when the participant is a willing learner, it does require reinforcement and refreshment regularly.

If you are investing in your people and providing them with training opportunities, you know that there is a cost associated with it.  It may be the labor dollars for the employee to watch an online training course.  It may be the travel dollars (airfare, lodging, meals, etc.) associated with sending an employee to a conference or instructor-led training event.  It may be the costs of printing material and shipping to employees in remote locations.  It may even be the cost of a license to provide web-based training.  In any event, there is a cost.

But the costs extend far beyond the actual training event.  If you provide training opportunities to your employees and do not follow up with reinforcement or refresher training, the impact of that training will not last.

So, how can we ensure the impact of the training does last?  Here are a few suggestions.

1.     For an online or web-based course, take the time to watch it yourself.  Take notes during the course on the items/content you want to ensure are implemented into the daily activities of your team.  Create open-ended questions about the content to ask your team during upcoming huddles and meetings.  Open-ended questions are those questions that cannot be answered with one word.  Open-ended questions typically start with phrases such as “Tell me how you would… or Describe a situation when you would..”  These questions encourage thought out responses from the employee versus a simple “yes or no” answer.

2.     For instructor-led training, attend the actual event as a participant, not as an observer that steps in and out of the classroom throughout the day.  You do not need to attend the course with every single employee, but attend with one at least annually.  Attending the course provides firsthand knowledge of what was taught and what needs to be reinforced.  For example, if a sales representative created a script to use with the customer, you will be able to ask each employee to share their script with you upon their return.  You can follow up at a predetermined time in the future to inquire as to how effective the script is and what changes have been made to increase its effectiveness.

3.     In any case, follow up.  Set reminders on your calendar for 30, 60, 90 and even 180 days from the training event that prompt you to follow up.  This follow up will communicate to your employee that this is important to you and that it was not simply a “check the box” exercise.  Employees will know that when an investment is made in them such as with training, there are expectations that they will use this information to make themselves and the company better.

Training and the impact from training on your business can last, but it will require time, energy, and commitment from you and your employees.

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