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Pete Cresswell

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Seven tips for learning sustainment


Pete Cresswell has a short handy checklist for improving the learning experience.

Learning a new skill in a classroom setting is one thing; actually applying that skill to the job is another. Many organisations offer training courses without considering the long-term impact such training should have on the business. Without reinforcing what participants learn, training becomes just another theoretical idea without any practical application. Here are some tips that can help you derive practical and measureable benefit from your investment in training programmes.

  • Gain executive buy-in for the initiative by involving them directly in the launch of any training programme, e.g. by personally endorsing it, by establishing some genuine metrics that allow them to track progress and monitor gains or improvements, and by keeping them informed and keeping them involved throughout
  • Understand the preferred learning styles and learning motivations of the people you intend to train and be flexible about how, where and when you train, and even more flexible about how, where and when you support
  • Provide 'hands-on' learning, using case studies and examples from the learner’s organisation or industry so they can practice on real work before they return to the job. Real-life scenarios convey learning the best
  • Ensure the learner has the right tools, job aids, checklists and methodologies required to implement, or accelerate, the adoption of new skills and competencies. Your organisation may require a readiness or 'maturity' assessment to help ensure that the correct practices, tools and infrastructure are in place to support any newly acquired skills
  • Make sure that each learner has access to a broad support network internally, whether through a coach or mentor, a peer group or discussion forum, or social or collaborative learning. Sharing what we know and do with others, and/or being guided and inspired by those with more practical experience, is the effective sustainment in action
  • Reward the learner for adopting new skills and competencies by tying aspects of an individual’s performance appraisal with evidence supporting the successful adoption (in the workplace) of new skills or behaviours learnt through training
  • Engage the learners’ line managers by involving them in the goal setting for the programme and their own individual learners, by helping them to prepare the workplace for the adoption of the new skills, and by educating them on how best to monitor, support and reward behaviour/performance change brought about by training.

Taking guidance from some or (preferably) all of these tips will set your organisation on a path towards achieving successful learning sustainment and, with it, far more certainty and control around real returns on your training investment.

Pete Cresswell is the head of professional services, EMEA at ESI International


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