What is the purpose of training? To create changes in behavior. Period. Whether it is technical training or soft skills training or training for behaviors such as sexual harassment or safety, you are trying to get people to do something differently, to get them to change their behavior. Most training is event based and informational. And with the exception of teaching a specific task or technical function, this approach to training simply does not work. Behavioral change takes months to accomplish. We’ve all been to these training sessions. We call them three ring binder training sessions. You go for a day or two, take home your three ring binder and put it on a shelf. And never look at it again. Until a year later, when you need the binder, you take it down, throw away all of the pages in it, and re-use it. I think this type of training was thought up by binder manufacturers.
So how do you make your training meaningful? How do you actually create changes in your employees? Here are the rules:
1. Make it experiential. Use all of the senses (sight, sound, touch, smell, taste (we use a mindful eating technique to teach mindfulness). Use improvisation, use storytelling, use games, use lectures, use kinesthetic learning.
2. Reinforce it over time. Tap into social networks, follow up emails, quizzes, tests, and games. Retest or recheck if possible after six months. We have found that the behavioral changes BEGIN around the 4 to 5 month mark with constant follow up and reinforcement.
3. Hold people accountable. Set up accountability partners in the class. Set up accountability folks above them, beside them, below them, a family member or friend, and someone inside the business but outside the company. Call these people at the six month mark and ask if they have seen any changes. Use this as a coaching exercise. They have to talk to their accountability folks and ask them if they have seen any changes, make a report, and turn it in.
4, Go beyond Kirkpatrick. Take the time for meaningful measurements of change and implement it. Check in again at the year mark and see if the change has held. You can retake evaluations, recheck with accountability folks and recheck progress. This should be done annually as people tend to revert back to old behaviors, especially under times of stress.
So there you have it. Four points to create permanent, lasting, positive change.