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The bridge between training & experience


I am taking up a new position as a local change coach. I have observed the phenomonon of enthusiastic students coming from training courses which introduced the new "thing" and gave some limited expierence of it.

In many cases, the initial enthusiasm is allowed to wane and the usage of the "thing" is variously, very good, patchy, slow or not at all.

I know this is in part due to learning styles and speeds, resistance to change, other perceived priorities etc.

But what techniques can be used to minimise this time gap to full acceptance and "business as usual"
Barry Dench

4 Responses

  1. Coaching and Managing Are Key
    Congratulations on your new position Barry.

    In my experience, there are a whole host of things that support application of knowledge after courses… and no doubt the rest of the training zone family will come up with tonnes more….

    1) Get their line managers involved. Regular meeting with a good manager with good coaching skills [if they are not good, they need training and support in this area as in my opinion it makes the most difference between poor and excellent managers], who knows the course content and your job role, can help enormously in setting manageable tasks to build on a person’s new knowledge (research shows that combining coaching with training increased productivity by 88% compared to just 22% for training alone). The key is to set small steps that integrate the new learning into everyday activities. Gradually building in confidence and expertise.

    2) If you can, get staff who have been on the course to meet regularly, to review their experience and perhaps talk about one or two aspects of the course (as a refresher situation, perhaps every 6 weeks). It doesn’t need to take long, especially if people take it in turns to present one aspect or their experience to date.

    3) Ensure that all delegates leaving a course have an action plan (either as part of the course or created directly afterwards) that links into their job roles (with goals stretching perhaps 2-3 months ahead).

    4) Encourage evaluation after 1 and 3 months of the course (Kirpatrick levels 3 and 4) – this is also a great source of information to you in decided whether courses are meeting the needs of the staff….

  2. Get them thirsty!
    Congrats Barry – I have worked in a similar role – it can be rewarding, and bl*@dy frustrating!

    Let me see if I’ve got this right:

    Enthusiastic students come back full of beans, but the use of the ‘new stuff’ is patchy at best, or doesn’t happen at worst – we’ll ignore the scenario where everything is peachy!

    Why aren’t things peachy? Could be that the students’ line managers don’t see enough (any?) benefit it doing things the new way esp. when it’s hard enough doing it the tried, tested, and known-about old way. To do it the new way will mean disruption, extra work perhaps, maybe a drop in performance? And anyway, whose idea was it to do the training? Some central plan or dictat from on high? A push to tick various boxes? A requierment to be seen to be doing something with performance before somebody gets fired?

    You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink. It will drink when its thirsty. Not before.

    People will *be allowed* or they will *feel allowed* to put things in to practice when that thirst level, when the real need level in them *and* management together is high enough.

    IMHO getting line management buy-in at the start, helping them to get thirsty as it were, was crucial. I helped them help me to understand their local operation, and then I helped them understand it in the context of the organisation as a whole and how it stayed in business/operations. From there they could see for themselves the value of the training, and together with the students they made sure some good practice was implemented and shared. I didn’t do the evaluation – they (management) did – because it’s their responsibility, not mine. Mine was to help them appreciate the need, and the means for meeting that need.

    Emma offers some excellent tips, which I feel would be strengthened by ensuring that each student’s line manager requires an action plan from the student, that the student knows this in advance, and that the student and manager have agreed beforehand – perhaps with your help & guidance – how the training could help with a specific issue facing them.

    I would really push the evaluation aspect, but not have the line manager (not you!) do it just 1 and 3 months after the event – I’d have the line manager and student (perhaps) do an evaluation BEFORE the training so they are clear about what they are doing, why, what outcomes & successes they are looking for, and how they will implement changes etc after the training. Afterall, if a line manager is going to lose the student for the duration of the training, there has to be some kind of payback?!

    You have a challenge ahead of you, but it’s a good meaty one! Happy to share specifics off line if you wish.

  3. Benefits from Training
    Sounds like you may have a problem with either:

    * the process that led to the decision for the person to go to the course. My experience shows that the old 80:20 rule also applies to training when it comes to whether or not training is the best solution to a performance issue ie attending a training course is the most appropriate solution for only 20% of the performance issues. (suggest a book by Mager and Pipe title is something like “you shouda oughta wanta…”

    * your managers are not actively involved with the person prior to the course… discussing why training is the best option then agreeing what specific things need to learn (and hence what behaviours need to change on return to work and agreeing how the manager and the learner will work together to ensure application etc after the course

    * the course is a “dud”

    Regards, Graeme

  4. Whose responsibility

    Some excellent advice so far. One thing I would add is the danger of having a role like yours (at least what I believe it is from the title)is that the managers have shifted the rsponsibility for an aslect of management to you!
    Maybe you need to insist on a joint meeting after the course, with employee, manager and yourself. You can then actively coach them both to achieve the intended changes



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