One of the most obvious challenges with training is choosing the right messenger to really inspire change in people.
If you’re the boss, you probably don’t want to hear this, but you may be one of the worst possible choices, simply because your people know you too well. It’s hard to take that Superman cape seriously, after all, when you work every day with Clark Kent.
Your people know you – warts and all – and they may like you perfectly well. But that doesn’t mean you’re the best person to impart the kind of training message that really brings about the transformation you’re looking for.
But even if you pick the right messenger, I often find that companies face a much bigger challenge where training is concerned – and it’s a problem of their own making:
People may be ready to embrace change, but when the training session is done, the organization isn’t really prepared to facilitate the change.
Often this is simply because the company plans no follow-up on the material presented in the training. Let’s say you want people to be more proficient at using a certain system, so the training is focused on that. Or let’s say you want people to embrace a completely different philosophy when it comes to sales, and you bring in a dynamite trainer who presses all their buttons and gets them bought into the idea.
That’s great, but what will happen when training is over and they’re back to their usual day-to-day tasks? Is the company going to spend time in the aftermath making sure the use of the new system or the new approach is fully incorporated into the company’s processes?
Employees can get very excited about an idea or a direction during a training session. They can come out of the training session pumped up to get going on what they’ve learned – convinced that their work experience will never be the same because of it.
But what happens if they find their work experience is exactly the same as it was before? What happens if they return to their offices or cubicles and find that the same familiar tasks are piling up – except even more so because they just missed a day of work for training?
Now it’s a matter of trying to dig out from under the pile, and before many days have gone by, they’re starting to forget what had them so excited during that training session. They’re starting to wonder if the company really wants them to do what they just spent time learning. And they’re starting to wonder if there would be any reward for doing so.
Because so far it looks like the company’s expectations for them are exactly what they were before the training. Their supervisors haven’t changed anything about their job description, their duties or their current or future workload. Everything is just like it was before.
This is usually a failure of planning up front. The company brought in the trainer because there’s a fundamental belief in the power of training. But no one thought about what would come next.
They could have invested in digital accountability systems, or some new software, or even just an app that would have kept the priorities identified in the training on target. It could be as simple as having a manager touch base with employees to make sure they’re making progress on what they learned.
Any follow-up is better than none. But the best approach is to pre-plan a comprehensive effort to implement what the trainers teach. That’s not only about time. It’s also about commitment of resources, support and accountability.
If the employees who are now embracing change come back to a system that hasn’t changed, the system will reject the very change you paid the trainers to teach. They need to see that leadership is committed to the change, and that this is reflected in their tangible responsibilities. They need to see that they will be rewarded if they make the changes and held accountable if they don’t.
Often a company with problems thinks it can solve the problems just by investing in training or consulting. But that’s really not the solution. The solution is to know what will work better, and commit to it, and then bring in the trainers to make sure the team is equipped to embrace the change.
The trainers aren’t going to make things different. You are.
Unless you don’t.
Written by: Wade Wyant
Red Wagon Advisors