4 Ways to Make Workplace Training Stick

TrimagesSo I have had a winge about the lack of evaluation and assessment of workplace learning, so lets be more positive and look at a few great ways to make your training stick. Needless to say, employees & everyone else in your business will start to see why training takes place, be involved with the learning plans & objectives and best of all save training your budget. Most of all learning engages people and as a result could improve their productivity.

So here we go a few quick and easy steps to get measuring training at work.

  1. Proper training needs & skills gap analysis. If there is no needs or skills gap analysis, there is no understanding who needs training or development. A discussion with all the stakeholders involved and a plan to help the individuals development, what the return on investment looks like and to make targeted decisions for the best way forward. Staff team training needs should be reviewed as part of the performance and development review process via the one-to-one meetings and annual appraisal.
  2. Measure learning before pre & post training. Assessment of what learner knew about the topic before and after the training is a great place to start. Beware that the results can be inflated by 6 times if not careful. Happy sheets after training are also very limited due to various reason. Some may be the warm glow of a nice lunch! So factor in effective measures of training transfer and ultimately the proposed return on investment.
  3. Transferring learning to work. In order to ensure your training has been effective, you need to do more than evaluate and assess. We need to take post-training time to help trainees transfer their new skills and knowledge to the workplace and to make these behavioural changes stick. You may need to help employees overcome certain obstacles to applying training to the job. Perhaps coaching & mentoring will help make the transfer of training knowledge stick. Certainly line managers taking an active interest on how the training is being applied to the workplace.
  4. Putting It All Together. Investing in people is a very wise decision for every organisation. Training makes better employees & people, better people make better companies. Try to keep in mind training is much more than a one off event. As methods and technologies need to keep changing with the way the organisation works. Companies that stay competitive invest in their employees by turning them into lifelong learners, whilst being engaged and the most valuable resource you have in your business.

This is a whistle stop tour of just a few effective methods of evaluating your training and assessing the people being trained. Indeed the importance of training employees both new and experienced cannot be overemphasised. Manager and supervisor training and development is equally important as orienting new employees in order to promote workplace safety, productivity, and satisfaction. So lastly here are a few more points to bear in mind to help your organisation make training the centre of your operations for staff and ultimately a more profitable future for your business.

  • Make training & coaching a top priority at all levels of the organisation.
  • Develop a training/coaching programs that meets needs and is customised to your company and its employees.
  • Choose the correct training models for your training needs.
  • Evaluate training at every level.
  • Assist trainees as they transfer learned skills and behaviour into their work.

Why Workplace Training Rarely Sticks.

TimagesI appreciate the title may be a little provocative especially to HR, managers and team leaders etc but its true – workplace training can have little or no effect for business. I am as guilty as charged, having been on so many staff training courses where the priority list for us was, a nice lunch, a day out, early finish & a bit of fun. Very rarely did the line manager & HR advisor tell us why we were to be “trained” (H&S training excepted), informed what was expected of us individually or as a group or how our behaviour was to change as a result. During our cosy one-to-one’s the line manager would ask me “how did the training go”? I would reply “fine thanks” and that would be it. No follow up, no measurement of behaviour change or training transfer, no return on the company investment for the employee or business. So where does it go so wrong?

Here are few starting points to consider…

1. Only a fraction of what business spends on training actually changesbehaviour
Without training outcome setting, needs analysis, measuring training transfer and weeks & months of follow up reinforcement, application, feedback, encouragement and accountability, as much as 90% of all instruction doesn’t “stick” in the workplace.

2. People won’t use a skill consistently until it becomes habit or an automatic process.
Until a new skill has been habituated, people have to concentrate hard to do things in a new way. In a busy workplace without having conscious awareness of the new skills or behaviour they quickly decay and are then unused. Until new behaviours become an automatic process, old behaviours will prevail for most of the time. Repeated failures to apply the new skill can be discouraging, with people typically go back to their old, previously behaviour patterns defeating the object of the training.

3. A new skill is unlikely to become habituated without a follow up and repetition.
To learn any new skill, routine, habit or behaviour pattern, you have to perform the action again and again to stimulate memory and automatic processes. Only after the new process is established will someone consistently perform the skill on the job. Because of the time involved, this repetition can’t happen in the classroom. It has to happen in the workplace with continual assessment and follow up.

So with this information to hand what can be done to ensure that training is identified, implemented, delivered and measured effectively for a great return on investment for the organisation & the individual. I am sure those involved in training/L&D are familiar with dear old Kirkpatrick and the four levels of training evaluation. Not without its flaws but a great place to start evaluating the training. However, having used a method developed by Kamal Birdi with The Taxonomy of Training and Development Outcomes (TOTADO) to great effect, this model helps measure the individual, team, organisational & societal levels of effectiveness of the expensive training at work.

So the models of evaluation & assessment are there so what aren’t they used by may organisations to help justify training budgets? Surely its about staff that have had skills added to positively rather than we have trained a XXXX number of people? The lack of assessment of training may be partly due to cost and extra effort or just lack of understanding of methods needed to evaluate properly? Perhaps there is a training need right there!

Measuring training, assessing trainees and evaluating training outcomes is a a very straight forward process. With a little application and understanding for what learning outcomes are needed then the line manager, leadership team and HR group can make significant improvements with workplace learning & savings with training budgets. Workplace learning can measured and will be effective with the cooperation of all parties concerned as long as objectives are agreed at the outset. Therefore changing the perception of training from a “whatever” to something of real added value. So the challenge is – can you be sure your workplace training sticks, if not take a few positive steps to change and make your training accountable, measurable and most of all enjoyable.

Bibliography

Birdi, K. (2010) The Taxonomy of Training and Development Outcomes (TOTADO): A New Model of Training Evaluation. Paper presented at the Annual BPS Division of Occupational Psychology Conference January 2010

Kirkpatrick, D.L., & Kirkpatrick, J.D. (1994). Evaluating Training Programs, Berrett-Koehler Publishers.

Kirkpatrick, D.L., & Kirkpatrick, J.D. (2005). Transferring Learning to Behavior, Berrett-Koehler Publishers.