Learning for the long-term

To recruit and retain an adaptable workforce that can learn new skills and put them to work effectively remains a challenge for most employers.

Management guru Ken Blanchard, who will be visiting the UK this spring, will explain that this aim is so central to an organisation’s success or failure, they should spend 10 times more energy reinforcing the training that has just taken place, instead of looking for the next great initiative. If they don’t, they risk their staff using less than 10% of the skills they learned in the training back on the job.

We ask readers for their views on the age-old problem of making learning stick.

KEN BLANCHARD, chairman, The Ken Blanchard Companies

Strategies for follow-up and reinforcement should be a natural part of the learning process. We’ve developed tools for cost-effective and consistent follow-up, such as a web-based programme that proactively reminds training participants of the objectives they set in training.

It also encourages them to record progress and get feedback from managers for an eight-week period after training, and guides next-step action planning. Organisations also need to spend much more time aligning training with corporate strategic goals in the first place. Knowing where you are going is the first step to getting there.

KAREN FENTON, head of HR, UCI Cinemas

Our biggest annual training investment is in the ‘UCI Legendary Leadership’ programme, delivered through the Business Leadership Group (Dale Carnegie). This initiative made us the regional winners of a National Training Award in 2004. I attend the final session on every event along with our MD and senior team.

It’s extremely emotional, as each attendee describes in turn how the development has changed them.
We evaluate their leadership ratings from their direct reports, colleagues and manager prior to the event and the evaluation is repeated after the event to further define areas for focus.

We also run a refresher event to share learning and re-focus attendees on their commitments.

RICHARD MOSS, training consultant, Scottish Life

First, make sure your plan is right from the start, and ensure you’ve done a training needs analysis and you’re giving them the product they need. Then get buy-in from people in the company as high up as possible.

Then you have to deliver follow-through.  That may mean delivering some coaching or bringing the trainees back again to make sure that reinforcement of the training’s key points occurs.

It’s the simple things that make for best practice, but the difficulty is actually doing them.

COLIN ROBINSON, management development manager, House of Fraser

In my view, the way to make learning stick is for the learner to make it relevant to themselves. In this way, the learning they undertake meets an individual goal, not just a work-related goal. That means there is a double incentive.

We have to work towards changing hearts and minds, rather than just changing processes.

GILLIAN INCE, Training and resourcing manager, Claire’s Accessories

To make training stick, it needs to be relevant to the individual, and they need to be able to put it into practice as soon as possible.

It’s about turning the learning into reality – unless someone has the opportunity to do that, it will only stay at the back of their mind.

For example, people might attend a recruitment and selection course because they are a line manager, but if they are not going to be recruiting for six months, the value of the training they have done will be lost.

JO STEEN, HR director, Avis Rent a Car

Nottingham Business School’s recent accreditation of our front line training proposition for customer service and management roles has created much more rigour in making sure the learning sticks.

You must be audited by the business school, which covers both our in-house trainers and our outsourced partners.

It moves your internal proposition up a notch, and evidence to show the learning has ‘stuck’ has been a key discussion point with the business school.

In addition to delivering on the basics of course pre- and post-briefs, for the first time, we will be requiring delegates to complete formal assignments following training at all levels from front-line staff to managers.


Feedback

WHAT DO YOU THINK? If you have a topic you’d like to be aired on our Talking Points page, let us know in no more than 50 words.
Send correspondence to Stephanie Sparrow, Editor, Training Magazine, by e-mail: stephanie.sparrow@rbi.co.uk, fax: 020 8652 8805, or by post: Training Magazine, 5th floor, Quadrant House, The Quadrant, Sutton, Surrey SM2 5AS.

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