By Kendra Lee
Training is not an end to a means. It’s part of the journey.
When you’re going on a trip, typically you plan ahead and buy tickets, make reservations, and line up transportation. With training, you need to do the same thing. You must choose your destination before you plot your course. This is why you should include behavior reinforcement in your training design—it’s part of planning how you’re going to get where you want to go.
Here are some reinforcement strategies we used recently to create lasting behavior change when we trained 4,000 employees on a critical skill that was a stretching experience for many.
Executive Buy-In: We all know we need to have executive-level support to build a program that will create opportunity for new skills to grow. Without this support, your attempts at reinforcing behavior change may fall flat.
Podcasts: Once we’d trained on the material, we created podcasts of key content from the program. Individuals could listen to specific topics when they needed a quick refresher. In virtual training, the podcasts also were used for people who missed a session, or didn’t quite understand a concept. Each podcast was between three and nine minutes long. Their short length made them a fast refresher that participants appreciated.
E-mail Reminders: Every two weeks, we scheduled an e-mail reminder that aligned directly with one of the modules, including key things learners should be doing, thinking about, or watching for. We included links to relevant podcasts. When you include a link, you can set up analytics to see which e-mails seemed to be most relevant and which podcasts garnered the most interest.
Online Discussion Forum: We used two types of online forums to foster discussion with participants during and after program completion. We created one group for each class where they got to know each other and posted assignments for input from instructors. We also created a group for graduates to share experiences, pose and answer questions, and continue learning. All materials and resources were hosted in the forum for easy reference. Supervisors and trainers use the forums to see what issues are occurring and to identify new training needs.
Larger companies can use their intranets to create forums. Smaller organizations can create private discussion groups through social media sites such as LinkedIn.
Field Work: When we conduct virtual training, we typically do 90-minute sessions. At the end, participants receive an assignment to complete before our next session. In a face-to-face training, assignments are due before a four- to six-week check-in. We’ve seen a 26 percent increase in sustained behavior change when learners have the opportunity to practice their new skills in real work situations.
Managers: Engage your managers. Have them use one-on-one meetings to review individual progress. If the trainees have learning gaps, managers can refer them back to the podcasts or training resources for a quick refresher. Encourage managers to devote 15 minutes of a team meeting to different topics from the program. Provide managers with content, exercises, and instructions for easy execution.
Kendra Lee is a top IT seller, prospect attraction expert, author of “Selling Against the Goal,” and president of KLA Group. Specializing in the IT industry, KLA Group works with companies to break in and exceed revenue objectives in the small and midmarket business (SMB) segment. For more information, visit www.klagroup.com or call 303.741.6636.