Training Effectiveness and Post Workshop Learning Best Practices
Most seasoned corporate training professionals understand instructional design consulting best practices. They know that they need to thoughtfully define learning objectives that align with desired business outcomes, assess current skill levels, and design learning solutions to improve confidence and competence for prioritized skill gaps. While all those steps are important, the most impactful step from the training strategy is missing — post workshop learning and reinforcement.
Post Workshop Learning Best Practices Research
Based upon over 800 training measurement projects, we know that training by itself — even if it is highly customized and well regarded — only changes the on-the-job behavior and performance of 1-in-5 training participants. And the 20% that do change behavior and improve performance were already likely to do so without much help.
The difference maker?
Post workshop training reinforcement.
Post Workshop Learning Best Practices
To be sure you get the most out of your training investment, here are six best practices that will help you to create on-the-job behavior change and performance improvement after a corporate training workshop:
- Prompt Learners to Reflect Upon What They Learned
Explicitly asking learners to reflect on what has been learned makes the learning experience more productive. Corporate learning reflection helps participants to think critically about their skills, supports a growth mindset, and encourages them to make sense of what is working and what is not working for continuous learning and improvement.
Just remember that learning reflection is not an event. While post-workshop check-ins and post mortems are helpful structures, effective learning reflection is a mindset and should be part of your learning culture and career development routine.
As stated by American philosopher John Dewey: “We do not learn from experience … we learn from reflecting on experience.”
To promote learning reflection and enhance meaning, set up a mechanism where learners must think about what they learned and how those new behaviors can be integrated into their future work. These reflections can be covered in a conversation with a colleague, an email from the workshop sponsor or facilitator, a note that they write to themselves, a reflection journal, or a video that is shared by all the trainees.
When asking learners to reflect, encourage them to (1) think about a scenario where they tried to apply the new skills, (2) recall how they felt and thought in the moment, (3) reflect upon what worked and what did not work, and (4) connect the lessons learned towards future actions and a specific plan of what to do next.
You will know you are on the right path when learners start to challenge the underlying principles and beliefs that define the way they think and behave at work as it related to the pre-defined learning objectives.
- Require a Post Workshop Performance Test
Too many instructional designers and trainers fail to assess if training participants learned what they were supposed to learn and if they can consistently, confidently, and competently apply the lessons back on the job. Not many business functions are allowed to get away with this lack of scrutiny.
Strengthen learners’ motivation by creating the positive performance pressure to learn through learning performance tests during and after the workshop. Use relevant scenarios to test attitude and aptitude. Expect and support continuous improvement.
You will know you are on the right path when learning participants can successfully pass the performance tests and rate their confidence high enough to succeed.
- Provide Relevant Job Aids
Effective learning job aids deliver the right information, answers, guidance, and support to employees at the exact moment of their need. Focused on targeted job-related challenges and needs, they help ensure the transfer of learning.
Set up an easy-to-access repository of relevant microlearning videos, reference tools, memory joggers, podcasts, games, quizzes, mobile apps, cheat sheets, and how-to guides to help learners as they use their skills for the first time and to reinforce the new behaviors. Effective job aids are available when and how employees want and need them.
You will know you are on the right path when job aids are seamlessly integrated into the daily work flow.
- Design Forums for Sharing Learning Stories
Expand learning opportunities by encouraging learners to share their learning stories — how they applied the training, how it worked, what they learned, and what they would do differently going forward. This kind of reinforcement benefits from the power of social dynamics and real-world application.
Sharing lessons learned prevents people from repeating the same mistakes, reinforces the benefits of the new ways, and allows others to take advantage of best practices. Sharing success stories also helps spotlight what is working well, encourages the desired behaviors, and places positive performance pressure on late adopters to get on board.
You will know you are on the right path when there is a buzz around participants doing something new or different.
- Train Managers on How to Coach to the New Behaviors
Training participants who receive frequent and consistent coaching on the new desired behaviors outperform their peers 4-to-1. Give managers the coaching skills they need to observe newly learned behaviors and provide effective, timely, and supportive feedback. The best coaches not only help their employees to perform at their peak, but they also keep their employees fully engaged.
You will know you are on the right track when your managers know how to coach to three performance drivers: desire, productivity, and capability.
- Align Performance Management, Rewards, and Recognition
We have all been in situations where the reward and recognition systems seemed to be misaligned with company strategic priorities and aspirational behaviors. How can you expect training participants to try new ways of thinking and working if they are being promoted or rewarded for contradictory behaviors?
Imagine being asked to be customer centric sellers at Wells Fargo while bonuses were based upon getting new accounts at any cost. Or attending ethics training at VW while they were falsifying emissions data. While perfect alignment is rare, you must make sure that they key behaviors, skills, and attitudes that you want participants to adopt are not in direct conflict with how people are measured or rewarded — otherwise your training investment will be diluted.
You will know you are on the right path when rewards and metrics are aligned with the desired new behaviors.
The Bottom Line
Don’t waste your employees’ time and your development dollars on training that goes nowhere. For training skills to actually make a difference in performance, they must be methodically monitored, reinforced, and coached.
To learn more about how to create better corporate learning solutions, download The #1 Reason Training Initiatives Fail According to Executives