Some people feel that once their staff members have participated in a training event, the job is complete and the training process is over. They treat the process as an event.
For training to stick, however, it has to be part of a journey. It is a journey of continuous improvement and development. A journey that includes measurement, recognition and coaching is one that will make the difference in changing behaviors.
It really does not matter what skills you are training. Without reinforcement you will have limited long-term success — guaranteed. Whether it is safety, customer service, operations or sales skills, you will not get the desired results when you treat the initiative as an event.
After the initial training, it is critical to develop a strategy for converting the event into a journey that will produce your desired results. Consider the following:
- Develop buy-in. Make sure participants understand that the learning will go beyond the initial training. You need to clearly establish the “what’s in it for me, what’s in it for your company and what’s in it for the customer” as you work to develop the buy-in. There has to be the motivation to want to change behaviors and adopt the new skills.
- Coach your staff members. Once the training is complete, continue on that journey through coaching your staff members. Use effective coaching techniques to reinforce the proper skills and correct the areas they are missing. Keep the coaching constant and positive. Most coaching is informal and in the moment while other coaching is more formal with a specific appointment. Both are effective and important.
- Ongoing training. After the initial event, continue the learning process with additional training. The ongoing training does not need to be as formal. Consider other methods for this training such as online or web-based. This training also can be shorter and focused on specific skills. The important thing is to keep the learning going. Keep the skills fresh and relevant.
- Make measurements. What gets measured gets done. If there is a valid measurement that pertains to the skills you are teaching, implement that measurement. For example, we teach a lot of phone-based customer service and sales skills. To provide a measurement tool based on those skills, we conduct mystery phone shops or use actual calls to evaluate. The measurement provides practical follow up and allows for coaching on specific skills or behaviors. The types of measurement will vary from financial metrics to accuracy. The ongoing measurement is part of the journey to improvement.
- Reward success. This is the fun stuff. When you observe changes in behavior and your measurements are improving, reward employees. An incentive program can reinforce the skills that are important to you and your company.
Training should not be a flavor of the month. It needs to be a commitment to changing behaviors and continuous improvement. The journey will help employees grow and be part of their development. Don’t fall into the illusion that a one-time training without any follow-up will truly change your culture and impact results and development.
Barry Himmel is a senior vice president for Signature Worldwide, a Dublin, Ohio-based company offering sales and customer service training, marketing and mystery shopping services for a variety of service-based industries. Signature also offers several training sessions geared towards the rental industry. For more information, call 800-398-0518 or visit signatureworldwide.com.