How To Make Training Truly Effective

What does training have to do with Industrial and Labour relations? We all know the most important relationship at work is with your immediate supervisor.  All leadership training and any task training is designed to improve someone’s performance: either performance as manager or performance as an employee.  Nothing damages the culture more than poor performance and the related frustrations and waste associated with poor performance.  Positive organizational culture is dependent on these relationships being healthy and health is dependent on good performance.  Without good employee performance you have risk of unionization, and other labour relations risks.    So lets make training truly effective, but how?

In far too many instances training can be nothing more than a boondoggle. Participants enjoy being away from the office for a day or two and enjoy a catered lunch. They may learn a few tips but really do not pick up much in the way of skills. Nevertheless, we continue to send people away to courses in order to at least be able to check a box that some training takes place.

To make training effective we need to first establish why the training is necessary. There can be many different stated reasons why we train people but they all come down to one thing – we want their performance to change. A simple “trick” to improving the return on an investment in training is for the trainee’s boss to spend a few minutes several days in advance of the training to discuss expectations for change.

The boss points out to the trainee an aspect of their performance that needs improvement. Together they discuss specifics around what change is required and how it will be measured. The meeting concludes with an agreement to use the training as a springboard to action.

Immediately following the training, the boss and trainee meet again to review the action plan the trainee has developed. It is then put into action. Part of the plan is regular scheduled reviews with the boss during which progress to the goal is measured. This provides an opportunity to celebrate the little successes along the way to a complete change in performance. It is also an opportunity to make any small course corrections required.

These reviews continue for a period of time until the new behaviours learned during training have become imbedded as standard operating procedures and until success is achieved and maintained.

If every boss and every trainee went through these simple steps the trainers can then cater the training towards specific goals and objectives. The usual course review sheets handed out at the end of training then become somewhat unnecessary. Instead the boss and the organization can gauge the efficacy of the training on the results achieved in the months following.

Good training results in performance improvements and changes in behaviours. Anything else is just a day away from work.