Saturday, 8 November 2008

Make Learning Stick....Part 3....the start is not the end......

This is my third post in my Making Learning Stick series.

Making Learning Stick is all about getting the most from your learning investment - something that currently more important than ever for everyone involved in L&D.

In my last post we looked at the role of the line manager and what a big influence this can have on the employee when they return back to their day job following a learning intervention. In this post we look at other ways to help support the employee back in their work environment.

How often have you seen people attending a training course where they are totally fired up and commited to changing their approach or behaviour?

As the L&D professional you return home feeling on top of the world thinking that your efforts have made a real difference. As the employee attending the course you genuinely want to change and are looking forward to applying your new skills and knowledge. However when Monday comes around and you get totally consumed back into your day job, how often have you seen people revert back to their original position? Some people who are more resolute may manage to resist for a few weeks but even then things start to tail off.........why?

The reason for this is because the learning only STARTED during the training intervention. You only learn about something on a training course. It is when you go back to the work environment that you really learn how to do something. If you think about the learning intervention in this way then there are a host of other things that need to form part of it.

In my previous post we talked about how the line manager needs to be part of this. Assuming that the line manager knows what to do or even what the training involves is probably not a good thing!

So what should I do to implement an integrated approach to learning?

1) Ensure that the line manager for each of your delegates has been informed about the training being attended. Remind them to have a conversation with the delegate before the training to discuss what outcomes they are looking for and then to have another conversation after the training intervention to see what happened and what needs to happen next. Personally I make sure all of the line managers are emailed but this depends on the scale of your audience. In addition you can make the initial conversation a pre-requisite for the course. Ask delegates to bring along the agreed outcomes and ask them to be prepared to discuss this.

2) Plan specific events or activities following the training that will reinforce the messages. These can take many different forms so here are a few ideas:
  • Help the delegate understand what other development activity is now useful to them. Give this to them to take away and discuss with their manager. It could be further training or specific roles and activities in their workplace. I call it the 'what happens next' list. On a more formal scale this is a development plan - but we will discuss this further in another post.
  • If it is appropriate for  your workplace and you are looking to change behaviours and elements of  your culture then you can reinforce messages by using marketing material. For example if you are trying to make your people more client focused then put up some posters around the place that reinforce this message perhaps in a humerous form. Put them in places where people will discuss them (break out areas, near the water cooler etc). Try and be provactive - the aim is to get people talking about it.
  • Think about how you  might use some of the newer social networking tools to reinforce the messages. Again I will look at this further in another post.
  • Think about how you can build a community of like minded people. This can be a very powerful for people to support each other. Again, look out for another post on this.
  • Action learning can have a huge role to play in embedding the learning and developing people. I recently published a separate series on this so take a look at that.
  • Keep in contact with the delegates. I make a point of talking to delegates when I see them in the office? How are things going? Can I connect you to other people who could help? What have they noticed about themselves? What barriers have they experienced? If you can't do this individually then send them all an email, arrange a follow up conference call - keep it in the forefront of their mind.
Sending people on a training course can be an important part of people development. However it is definitely only the start of the learning process for people. Taking a much more integrated approach to learning is another vital ingredient to making learning stick in your organisation.

No comments: