Steve Willis is a master trainer and vice president of professional services at VitalSmarts.
So you sign up for a course—one that furthers your development plan, one that offers skills to tackle the challenges you face, or maybe just one that fulfills your learning quota. Now you’re enrolled, and your first thoughts are about the training itself. “Will it be any good? Will I like the instructor? Will I have to role play?”
Often, our satisfaction with our investment in time and money is determined by the answers to these initial questions. If the answers happen to be “yes,” “yes,” and “little-to-none,” then we immediately feel we’ve made the right choice. However, while these answers are good indicators of a participant’s experience during the class, I believe what happens after the course is actually more important. So what can you do to make sure the after isn’t neglected? Here are some ideas.
Target specific applications for the skills both during and after training. We worked with hospital managers in Florida who surveyed participants three months after the training to test whether or not they were using what they’d learned. The results indicated that while employees loved the training experience, they rarely, if ever, used the skills on work-related issues. As they probed a bit further, they found that most had only used the skills at home. Apparently, employees were clear on where and how the skills applied at home and not so familiar with application to their jobs.
So, leaders identified four specific, work-related applications. They provided employees with a “when you see, hear, or experience this . . . use your skills.” Subsequently, people started using the skills at work (go figure). Leaders also incorporated these applications during the training so participants could use them as their “acid test” while learning the skills.
Build skill evaluation into formal processes. Another group we worked with added a couple of discussion items to their formal project post mortem process. This meeting was designed to evaluate the success of their project. They simply added questions to evaluate how successfully or poorly they had used their newly-learned skills while working on the project. This evaluation forced employees to consider the degree to which they were practicing their new behaviors.
So there are a couple ideas to consider. If you’d like to explore this idea in further detail, please join me on April 30 for our next Master Trainer Live Chat. I’ll be answering questions on a wide range of topics, including (but not limited to) rollout and follow up.