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Keeping the Learning alive


No matter how good a training course or workshop is, I know from personal experience how easy it is to sllip back into old habits. If we run some telephone skills workshops, how can we ensure that the key learnings and motivation continues out in the workplace? Posters with key messages and phone stickers quoting "smile as you dial" are the first thought.

If anybody has and is willing to share any good ideas on how to keep it alive it would be appreciated.
Zoe Horwood

8 Responses

  1. Learning

    The learning can be perpetuated by managers during supervision and appraisal sessions.

    Sandra Beale

  2. Coaching
    It sounds in this case that training is a method for getting people to understand what you’re trying to do, why you’re doing it and to give them an opportunity to put some of those skills into practice.

    Long-term transfer and use of those skills, should be facilitated by call coaching (regularly too – 5 calls a month will not maximise the benefits) from managers and team leaders (who as Sandra says should be reinforcing these messages and practices).

    Quick reference cards are quite handy as you suggest – but make them practical (i.e containing examples and ideas rather than slogans like “smile as you dial”)

    You could also take the revolutionary step of actually asking your staff what they feel might help them to retain the skills they’ve been trained in.

  3. Other factors
    Are you sure that the workplace is actually supporting the learning?
    Or are elements of the culture, policies, management practice, systems and process acting as a barrier to this?
    If they are then you need to readdress your training cycle and wider issues.

  4. Keeping it alive and well
    Hi Zoe

    Having worked in contact centres as a trainer for many years I can understand your dilemma.

    It is important that the team leaders fully understand the purpose and objectives of the training and that they reinforce this objectives through coaching (agree with Nik that 5 calls per advisor per month will not be enough) posters however one of the most effective methods is to use quick hit buzz sessions to bring the areas back to life in the contact centre.

    A possible solution would be to schedule two 30 minute buzz sessions per month, per team. These can either be run by trainers or by the team leaders (if they have been written in advance with clear notes). I have previously written some 40 buzz session to reinforce a soft skills programme.

    It is also important that the trainers, coaches, and management live and breath the new ideas etc. Those on the phones will be looking up the ranks to see how well the management team have bought into the programme too.

    Zoe, if I can be of any further help, please feel free to drop me an email at [email protected]

  5. Keeping it up
    We use a couple of core methods to help people keep the learning alive. In call centres it can be very easy to slip back:

    1. Try regular coaching sessions with each participant. We utilise live call recording for this. Although people find it a little weird at first, they soon realise the benefits and often request their own tape so they can listen to them in commuting time to help ‘coach themselves’ to better performance.

    2. E-learning can be used to prolong the learning, particularly if it’s designed in such a way that it can be utilised in short bursts, perhaps when call volumes are low, re-inforcing key messages.

    3. Surgeries where people can talk through difficult calls, as well as success stories, with colleagues, help people to gain a team responsibility for learning. Whilst early sessions may need to be facilitated, after a format is agreed they can be self managing.

    The key problem with each of these solutions is that managers and team leaders often want the training to be a silver bullet, perhaps your biggest challenge will be convincing the bosses that they really do need to commit ongoing time to learning.

    If you would like any help, please get in touch.


  6. Drip-Feed Approach
    I would “drip feed” regular reminders through e-mail or flash messages on home website, with the behaviours you want refreshed, a different one each day. Others have texted reminders to the mobile numbers of registered participants on a weekly basis. The other is posters showing the “top ten commandments” visible from operators desks.

  7. Keep on Top
    This may seem trite as it is so obvious – but I find the best thing to do to keep things sparky is to make a huge effort to keep on top of everything outside of training – the news, film, new books – there is always something current that can be tied into the training, (sometimes the more tenuous the link, the better!) and it demonstrates that no matter what you are teaching, it can be linked into everyday life. Putting training into context gives it greater value and “stickability”.
    [email protected]

  8. Not just training
    Hi Zoe,

    I am a firm believer in coaching as the support and development mechanism once the training has finished. Utlising more exprienced members of the team and or supervisors to coach and mentor others. This not only helps the learners but empowers the others. Also trying to create a culture in team / department where there is no stigma in seeking advice, coaching or help.
    All this is especially important if we acknowledge that the percentage of people who actually apply the skills after training courses is potentially quite low.

    Happy to chat if you want to email me – [email protected]



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