Stacy Nelson is a Master Trainer and Senior Consultant at VitalSmarts.
What are some ways I can further participants’ learning after the training?
Thanks for the great question. Helping participants gain as much learning and application as possible is always the goal of any training. However, as a recent Wall Street Journal article suggests, this is not usually the case. The article reports that with “little follow-up or meaningful assessments, some 90% of new skills are lost within a year.” So what are some practical things that can be done?
Let me make a couple of suggestions that move beyond just follow up. Could it be that the intended effect of training is really a function of three major phases of training?
- Preparation for training.
- The training event.
- Follow-up and follow through.
Due to limited space and time let me briefly talk about preparation and follow-up, with a brief reference to training.
Avoid “blind training”! Too often, employees are “sent” to training because this is a “good seminar and they will benefit from it.” So they are already psychologically at risk. If, however, an employee were to meet with their manager before the training and talk about a development plan and how some of the skills and tools from the training could be helpful, the employee can view the training in the larger context of growth and development. This should be a joint plan. Help the employee become both the scientist and the subject as they look at potential career limiting/enhancing habits. Look for crucial moments and vital behaviors. Also set the expectation that there will be a brief post training review after the training event.
One of the ways to deepen the impact of training is to customize the deliberate practice or “structured rehearsals.” Rather than using just those found in the toolkit, you can also gather typical situations that employees may encounter and put them into a structured rehearsal. We have found that this can have a significant impact on deepening the application.
Follow-up and Follow through
The basis of all education is repetition. One of the strategies that you might set up at the end of training is a deliberate practice plan. Challenge each participant to break up the training into small parts. Have them read one chapter in the book, listen to the corresponding audio CD, review the matching section in the toolkit, and work on the skills outlined on the cue card. Give participants two weeks to accomplish these tasks. Then in the following two weeks, have them read the next chapter in the book etc., until they have moved all the way through the material.
To create a simple system of accountability, have each participant pass around his or her toolkit to every other individual in his or her table group. Each person will put his or her name and e-mail address in the toolkit. Next, appoint a table captain who is responsible to send out an e-mail in two weeks, checking back with the participants on their assigned duties. It seems that group accountability is often more motivating than partner accountability.
While there are a number of other post-training and review ideas, we believe that if there were more intentional pre and post planning, the overall skill effect would be much more significant.