Secrets to Great Training Impact: What Every Manager Needs to Know
By Roxanne Emmerich, CSP, CMC
Is your objective to train your people, or do you want their training to result in stellar performance? This distinction has huge implications.
We’ve consulted with thousands of organizations during the last 13 years and have extensively researched how organizations can get the best results from training. We have also included research from
University’s studies on how to get the best training results. Please read this carefully—and right away—so you can plan a training process that gets maximum results.
Before the training sessions:
Research shows that when you send one person to a training session, that person’s application of the material is negligible. If you’re planning to send one person to an outside training program, consider sending at least two others so they can all work together to apply what they’ve learned.
Event training generates far fewer results than a training process. The key to substantial and sustainable results is a continual training process. Consider offering a series of training sessions and/or one session with a follow-up system that is monitored closely and applied within 24 hours of the session.
Research shows that people learn best in groups—especially for organizational culture topics. It is paramount that managers attend with staff members to get the best results. Every training session is a chance to discuss opportunities and make commitments for new behaviors. When managers attend along with staff, they demonstrate that they too are willing to grow AND that they consider training and growth to be important.
Make the first training session significant so you have a powerful start to build upon. Before the first session, make it clear by your actions that you expect behavioral change. Plan with attendees what you want them to learn. Let them know you expect that they will make commitments for behavioral changes based on what they learned, and that you will have a written copy of their commitments and will monitor their progress.
Research shows that it takes three weeks to form a habit. Whenever possible, plan to do mystery shopping or create some way to measure change of behavior and give immediate feedback to assure that the behaviors are being applied. Plan these for three weeks at a time.
You can’t afford to have new employees bring down the culture you’ve worked hard to create because they don’t understand it. We recommend that you train new employees with videotapes and workbooks that outline your customer service standards and other values within the first two days of employment. Make it a standard part of your new hire orientation. (We offer a customizable template program. For more information, or to request the program, e-mail
Train off-site, if possible. If this can’t be done, make sure beepers are turned off and people are inaccessible so the sessions are not interrupted.
Room set-up has a huge impact on the results of a session. Create a seating arrangement where people are very close to the trainer and close to each other. People participate far more readily when in close proximity to each other. When they are spread out, they tend to become passive.
During each training session:
Make sure managers attend with the staff members.
This is critical. It sends the message that this training is important.
If whiners want to focus on something that isn’t working, thank them for their input and then ask them what they can do to make it work. Change the complainers into doers. If they go back to whining mode, repeat the question: “What can you do to make it work?” Make sure the trainer is prepared to divert any interruptions from whiners about what won’t work by asking, “How CAN we?” A few repetitions of this statement will let whiners know that victimization isn’t rewarded in the training sessions.
Managers should intermingle with the rest of the trainees, but not dominate conversations or act in intimidating ways. Let trainees feel like the heroes.
After each training session:
Research shows that the most powerful part of a training session is what the manager does after the training—not what the trainer did during the session.
At the end of each session, have participants fill out the Feedback Forms (available in the Breakthrough Business® training system). On these forms, participants are asked to make specific commitments about what they will do differently. Have participants turn these in to their managers after the program. Managers will get optimal results by following up weekly with their people to gauge how they’re doing. Monitor the progress of your staff members in meeting their commitments. This is a CRUCIAL part of the training.
Most importantly, HAVE FUN! In a fun environment, people feel safe taking risks and learning. Be lavish in praise and committed to having fun with this process, and you will reap the rewards of a culture in which people thrive and perform at their peak!
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