How many times have you spent time and money on a training program that under-delivered? Maybe you’ve heard yourself say “everyone loved the facilitator but we haven’t seen any measurable results”. The problem usually isn’t the facilitator, the learners, the topic, or the material. The problem is usually due to the learning environment prior to, during, and following the training event.
Over the past 10 years I’ve had the pleasure of training over thousands of people in various organizations across the country. I know what makes training stick and I know what doesn’t. I can recognize when there is a high probability for change and impact and when a training initiative will fail. What it boils down to is a very simple equation:
Training + Environment = Results
You can offer tons of training but if the environment doesn’t support assimilation and application, you won’t see results. Listed here are 5 integral steps that I’ve narrowed down that ensure you design a training environment that has an impact and gets results.
Step 1: ASSESS
How is the training topic going to address an opportunity or problem? What should be happening differently as a result of the training? How will you know the learning has made a difference ~ what will change? Are there examples of a best practice in this area? These questions should be always be asked before any training is designed. I like to involve leaders, managers, and learners in answering these questions. Not only does it help to develop the training content and objectives but it is VERY IMPORTANT in getting buy in and support for the training.
Step 2: INVOLVE
Managers are a HUGE component of making training stick. I can confidently say that if they are not involved in setting expectations about the training, participating during the event, and following up after the training, you may not see the results you are hoping for. Involve them early, ask them to talk about the upcoming training in their staff meetings. Encourage them to talk about the skills/behaviors learned following the event. Provide managers with a way to recognize employees who are making positive changes as a result of their learning.
Step 3: PREPARE
Provide learners with an outline and learning objectives a day or two before the training. Interest them in the learning by sending out a few questions to consider and ask them to bring this information to discuss in the workshop. Set expectations about what they are going to learn and how they might apply the learning content. This engages learners early and gets them interested in their learning event.
Step 4: ENGAGE
Find the right facilitator that will engage your group. Consider your demographics and who they might connect with. Use a variety of learning methods to engage learners. Perhaps there is online pre-work that has to be completed. Use a coaching call as a follow up tool after the training. Pair up learners with accountability partners that meet during and following the training event. Engagement stimulates the mind and makes it easier to learn.
Step 5: REGROUP
This is a very important component of making learning effective. Either the manager or facilitator follows up with the learners once or twice following the learning event. This can be done one on one, in a staff meeting, over the phone, or in a lunch and learn format. This provides an opportunity to provide feedback and/or recognition on what has been working and how to remove any obstacles that are getting in the way of applying what they have learned.
These 5 steps are BEST PRACTICES when it comes to designing an engaging and powerful learning environment. They work AND they take some work. But when you talk about ROI, this is how you make it happen and your company and your learners are definitely worth it.