Make Your Training Stick

This year, we’ve discussed how training is a valuable investment in the development of your team members and can lead to improved performance, increased workplace satisfaction, and a more collaborative work environment. Most companies offer continuous training to add value and keep their teams up-to-date on new trends, technologies, and information in their particular industry. However, some companies go overboard by requiring their team members to complete an unrealistic number of hours of ongoing training while maintaining their efficiency. So, if training is so great, why not train 365 days a year?  Too much of a good thing can be bad. This “overtraining” can overload and induce stress on your team members, and over time could lead to underperformance, frustration, higher turnover, and reduced productivity.

Does Your Training Stick?

In addition, while the goal of continuous learning creates a more engaged staff, especially among Millennials, if a team member loses interest in what they are learning, much of the information being taught will not be retained. In fact, according to the Association for Talent Development, learners forget 58% of what they just learned within an hour after training ends, and 21 days later, they remember a paltry 18 percent. This especially holds true with continuous training programs that repeat the same information again and again in the hopes of “drilling it in.”   Instead, we should focus on how to increase retention of your key learning messages and not just training for the sake of training. Here are a few of my best practices for making sure your training sticks.

Make Time for Communication

To be an effective leader, you must make time to meet with your teams to reinforce key elements from training. Many companies have informal communication sessions with their teams such as daily, weekly or monthly meetings. While they are often designed to discuss the business at hand, they are also great opportunities to reinforce key messages on which staff have already been trained. Many managers know that they need to discuss these important topics that reinforce expectations set in training, but don’t know where to start or how to incorporate.  It shouldn’t be difficult for this to take place.

To start, consider using the tips in Shane Green’s recent blog on meetings. He provides many best practices for keeping meetings effective and on track. As he discusses, many companies have a designated daily, weekly, or even monthly meeting during which, the team meets to discuss needs and opportunities for improvement. Don’t miss the opportunity to take the time during these meetings to touch on the things that your teams have learned! Use the sample agenda in the above referenced blog and try to carve out a few minutes of time during your daily, weekly, or monthly meeting to reinforce training with the whole team.

Reminder Tools

Another great way to make sure your training sticks is to use reminder or reinforcement tools. Most companies develop branded training “reminders” such as posters, screen savers, or other visual aids that over time are forgotten and overlooked unless they are used with some type of interaction on a regular basis. I have seen the most amazing posters simply become artwork over time as they no longer are part of the conversation of the company culture.

Creating reinforcement tools is simple, and well worth the time – you already have the content at hand. Our Organizational Learning and Development Manager, Laura Book, recently wrote the article “Getting the Most Out of Your Content,” in which she describes some reinforcement tools that we use on a regular basis. As leaders, these tools can be invaluable, as they can be used in performance conversations, informal feedback sessions, or even career development opportunities.

One of the most effective tools that we have developed for clients is a simple deck of cards, each one containing a simple message to discuss during any communication session. They can contain an important piece of culture such as a value, behavior, habit or standard, or they may ask a question posed to the group that will require them to reference any of the tools that have been introduced during training, such as pocket cards, guidelines, posters, et. el.  Simply pick a card and begin communicating!

Keep it Real

The best way to make training stick is simply to use it on a daily basis in practice and in conversation. You can ask for your team members to bring real world examples into the conversation that provide valuable experiences from which others can learn. You can also then use those examples to recognize and reward individuals that embody the elements of your culture.  All of this can certainly keep the conversation alive on a daily basis and help ensure that your training sticks.  Keep training concepts as sticky as possible and impossible to get away from if you want to integrate them into your culture and encourage them to become habits for your team members, rather than something you just talked about in the classroom.

These are just a few examples of how to make your training stick, and next time we will look at more examples of how to integrate your training so that the messages are interwoven in the fabric of your culture. Thanks for reading! If you’re struggling with reinforcing your culture, habits, or training within your organization, reach out to SGEi today to learn how we can help.

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