How will YOU reinforce the learning, once the training is over?
The Training Doctor was once shown the door at a client site when our response to the question: How are you going to reinforce this learning once the training is over? was… “That’s not our job, that’s your manager’s jobs.”
It was an eye-opening experience to realize that a company requesting training didn’t feel responsible for ensuring the training would work or benefit the organization.
So before you design or develop any training program, be sure to ask your potential client (external or internal): How will this new knowledge or skill be reinforced on-the-job once the training is over?
It is important for a business / business unit to take responsibility for the training’s success. There is only so much an external consultant or even an internal trainer can do to ensure that people are allowed to practice and master their new skills on-the-job once they leave the training.
An extra service you might provide to your client is to create a list of options / ideas to reinforce the training. For instance:
- They might schedule a weekly brown bag lunch check-in at which the newly trained employees could bring up new questions or share tips and tricks that they had learned since the end of the training and the practical application began. As trainers we know that it is not possible to teach everything in a training class and often the learners will discover short-cuts or other methods of working as they’ve had time to implement their new skills on-the-job; it would be helpful for everyone to know about the short-cuts rather than requiring each individual to figure it out on their own.
- The training department might send out a series of emails which would reinforce some of the key points of the training. For instance, following a coaching class, a series of weekly emails might reinforce each step in the coaching process, such as Week 1: Remember to ask the employee how things are going from their perspective; Week 2: Probe and ask additional questions based on the answer(s) you got to the How is it going query. Week 3: Praise the things the employee has been doing right since your last coaching conversation, etc.
- Suggest a follow-up check-in two to three weeks after the training (allowing time to practice on-the-job). At this follow up meeting the trainer would be available to answer questions or provide reinforcement of the key concepts.
- Many times managers do not realize that their employees do not come back “fixed” after the initial training, and don’t realize that they have to allow for time for practice on-the-job, so a simple suggested schedule for managers which identifies the time needed to practice (such as week 1 allow one hour of practice, week two allow 30 minutes of practice, etc. ) might be all that is needed to see success soar. This approach not only reinforces what was learned but gives employees permission to practice on the job, knowing that it is supported by management.
Whether or not you provide the suggested reinforcement techniques, the responsibility for reinforcing the new knowledge and skills lies with the managers. Trainees must be given time and permission to practice their new knowledge and skills until they are more competent than they could have been by simply “being trained.”