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Marijn De Geus


Founder & CEO

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How to make my training program mandatory?


In my previous article, I discussed how making training programs mandatory boosts participation, causing participants to learn more and put this into practice. Despite the fact that some clients find this scary, practice shows me that participants don’t nearly mind as much as their managers expect. The question is: how to make sure your training program is really mandatory?

What does mandatory training mean?

“Ok, let’s make it mandatory then,” I hope to hear you say after reading part 1 of this story. Good choice! But this doesn’t mean you’re there yet. Mandatory, after all, is a hollow term. It implicates a consequence: if you don’t do it, then… This consequence has to be formulated, even though it doesn’t need to be a month of bread and water. At universities, we see multiple successful implementations of online soft skills programs: as long as you haven’t completed the program, you won’t receive a grade, or even access to the class. Or you’ll simply get scolded. This is however less straightforward in business.

The clients nod in agreement, but they don’t have grades or classes. “Employees bring their homemade sandwiches for lunch, so even bread and water won’t work”, one of them sighs (ok, that did not really happen, but you get the picture). How to make something mandatory when consequences are not easy to come by? Fortunately, some creative options are available.

Enter the conversation

Handing out certificates for successful completion offers participants something tangible they can aim for. Participation in training programs could be part of performance appraisal agendas. Also see if you can make components of your program dependable on each other: participants who did not finish the online preparation for a live training are not allowed to participate in this live training, for example. Sounds schoolish? You will probably hear that the first times, but eventually everybody will know how it works and every participant will be well prepared.

It might not surprise you, that the simplest construction often is the most effective: ask the individual that is not participating for the reason. No need to push them, because probably you will hear right away: I did not have time, I forgot, I had other priorities, etcetera. These answers are connected to: I am working hard and I think my work is important. Here lies an opportunity, enter the conversation!

It’s a busy life

We are all busy. So it is logical that communication training, especially when the training is individual, does not come first. An anytime there is a report to write, a client to call or a colleague to help. Often it helps to plan a weekly moment for training. I wanted to train more myself, but I noticed that often this would not happen (sometimes we are guilty of that at TrainTool as well). Till the moment when I started planning half an hour of training every friday afternoon at half past four. This makes a world of difference!

So make the training mandatory in a way that fits the activity of the participants best. First think of what their list of priorities looks like and do not only look for a fitting consequence for not finishing the training, but give participants the opportunity to plan a weekly moment for their exercises as well. In this way you increase both the participation and the appreciation of the training.

Dowload the case study and discover how we made it possible for Deloitte to train efficently! 

Author Profile Picture
Marijn De Geus

Founder & CEO

Read more from Marijn De Geus

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