I recently spoke to an excellent trainer who in a moment of candor said the following: “Companies spend a lot of money to bring me in for two days of intense training. But a month later most of what people learned is gone.”
The reason is that training doesn’t stick. Unless, of course, somebody follows up and makes sure it does. The trainer I spoke to lamented that fact that, despite his best efforts, most clients declined to bring him back to reinforce his message. They wouldn’t spend a little more to make sure they actually got a return on that big upfront investment.
The alternative to investing more in an expensive employee training consultant is to have managers do follow up. If I were the boss who brought in a high-octane outside trainer, I’d have a little talk with myself and conclude that:
- If I don’t follow up and reinforce all this great learning, as surely as night follows day, everyone WILL forget it.
- If that happens, I look like an idiot.
- Therefore, I absolutely must follow up.
The Four Rs is a good model for doing so. Here it is:
Revisit the training. Inspect everything I expect – Is Joe the sales rep doing what the outside trainer said? Is he meeting his daily cold call quotas? Is he following the carefully designed cold call scripts to the letter? Are his rebuttals on target? Employees pay attention to what I, their boss, am paying attention to. If I take my eye off the ball, they will too. Guaranteed.
Reinforce correct behavior. When Angie the IT manager successfully assigns key tasks to subordinates, she’s applying skills she learned in a delegation workshop successfully. So I need to reinforce and recognize Angie for her success, and encourage her to repeat that behavior.
Reteach when necessary. If morale in Andrew’s department is slipping, I need to take the time to revisit the key concepts he learned in an employee recognition seminar he attended.
Refocus the trainee. One key role of a leader is to continually remind people WHY acquiring new knowledge and skills is critical to both company and individual goals. Learning often takes people out of their comfort zones and can be very challenging. Refocusing people on the “why” is a huge motivator.
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