Are you gaining from your training?
How many times does it happen? Delegates leave a training session, a coaching session or a masterclass full of good intentions. Then…nothing, nada, no change at all. L&D professionals look at the evaluations and see everything is rated excellent. So why does great training rarely lead to long-term change?
There is no simple answer. If there was there would be no need for this blog. But in the experience of deWinton-Williams there are a few things you can do and they can make a big difference.
1. Change the nature of the learning
Professionals, especially lawyers, have a preference for intellectually challenging content which informs them about the competition or marketplace, or what other businesses are doing. The more complex the models and ideas, the more dense the slides, the better ‘trained’ they feel.
However, increased information does not mean increased skill. The more progressive businesses are moving to practice-based learning in which participants are put into realistic scenarios designed by experienced training designers, practised in real time and with immediate coaching and feedback. This award-winning approach is less comfortable but significantly more powerful as the change is cemented in the training room. There are good neurological reasons why this approach is so successful - but more of that in another blog.
2. Evaluate training on the change factors
Standard evaluations – often called happy sheets – are of limited value. High ratings tend to be correlated with the likability of the trainer and, if they make the delegates laugh, you are likely to get ‘excellent’. At the other extreme, they are an opportunity to give a faceless kick against something uncomfortable. Have you noticed how the most negative evaluations often have the name section blank?
A better measure is whether the training has improved knowledge and motivation on the basis that if people know what to do, how to do it and are sufficiently confident to try it out, they are more likely to do so. This means more work as you have to evaluate before and after the training session or coaching programme, but at least you are checking your return on investment.
3. Create solid goals and monitor
All best-practice training has a period at the end where delegates set out what they will do to action their learning. Then they go to the office, settle into a workload which has increased while they were in training and the good intentions gather dust. But what if you could make the targets live, shared with someone else, easy to monitor and hard to ignore because someone else is asking for progress? There are a number of ways to achieve this from learning circles to line manager reporting, but these tend to take time and, in our experience, lose momentum after the second or third follow-up.
Having co-developed and trialled a bespoke software package. We believe we can deliver a practical, results-based solution that is the way forward. deWinton-Williams has worked with a specialist company to develop goal-setting software which not only makes goal-setting simple, efficient and accessible, but also allows your coach or manager to look over the wall and drive your momentum. This can be achieved by celebrating progress, commenting on slow progress or giving you helpful advice along the way. And we all know that feedback is valuable for human learning. Using this software, we have seen results which have surpassed anything we have previously experienced.
4. Create competition
What would your business say if you could tell them that learning was not a cost but a profit driver? What if your development programmes not only broke even but delivered to the bottom line? This is not a spin. It is doable. On your larger programmes, especially those focused on sales or client relationships, set a monetary target and a report-back mechanism – maybe software as above or simply reporting back to a monitoring panel.
Keep the momentum going by creating a forum where participants share their results. A little competition goes a long way and change has to happen in order to achieve the outcomes. There is nothing better than public success to cement new skills and promote activity.
So, in short, a few changes in approach can deliver a big change in results. A recent programme by deWinton-Williams delivered a 300% return on investment with partners reporting real change in the attendees – and all this came out of the four steps above.