Many leaders create training programs only to find that they produce little or no long-term results. Most leaders and their employees are highly motivated and conscientious professionals who genuinely want their training programs to succeed but who habitually focus on short-term patches instead of long-term programs that benefit their organizations over time.
Short-term thinking permeates many of our workplaces. I've had more than just a few leaders ask me to transform their workplaces and employees in a single, three-hour training and they actually believe it can be done. It takes considerably more time and effort for training to take hold in any organization. As with any behavior, it takes time to shift our thinking and replace it with new actions. Here are ten workplace training methods to create long-term results:
1. Training works best when it's ongoing. A one-time training might be mildly effective if you're teaching people a specific workplace task but it doesn't create long-term changes in thinking and behavior. Learning any new skill (such as how to communicate well, manage effectively or build teams) takes deliberate practice over time.
2. Help your employees keep practicing the new skills. Your staff members benefit from your support to keep the training going. Try to set people up for success by giving them opportunities to practice the material instead of expecting them to be perfect immediately after the training.
3. Training starts with leadership. No initiative succeeds in an organization if leaders aren't fully committed to participating actively in the training program. If you're not involved on an ongoing basis then your staff members will think the program doesn't really matter.
4. Don't train on the cheap. You don't have to spend excessive amounts on trendy training just show your employees that you're willing to invest in their growth and development. It's also more productive to pay for an ongoing, quality program than many ineffective ones.
5. Focus on specific workplace behaviors. You either practice positive behaviors in the workplace or go down some other path. Focus on training that helps leaders and employees behave in positive ways and build a more productive work environment.
6. Don't punish employees with training. Your training will lose all credibility if you force employees to attend as a corrective measure or because you think they did something wrong. Training is about ongoing educational opportunity and growth, not about disciplining employees.
7. Attendance is highly encouraged. No one is allowed to schedule meetings or be called out from training sessions, especially leadership. Make time during the workday so that people can see that the training is worth their time. Leadership attends consistently and sets the example for the rest of the staff.
8. Set specific goals and measure results as you go. Identify one or two areas you want your training program to affect and measure what's happening before and after the training as well as at intervals in the future. Keep practicing what works and make modifications to strengthen areas that need extra attention.
9. Train the trainer. Design your training programs so that key employees gain the expertise necessary to train other staff members. When your staff can train itself you can keep the knowledge spreading indefinitely and continue making refinements.
10. Make the training part of your culture. You decide how important training is in your organization. If everyone from your leadership down is highly invested in and actively involved in training then i t will become a natural element in your workplace.
Try these ideas and you'll enjoy the benefits of training that creates lasting change in your organization. All it takes is your commitment and the energy to keep it going. What will you do to promote long-term training in your workplace?