Talent Management and Development

26.12.2011 Talent Management and Development 2 Comments

Making Learning Stick: Post 2 of 4

In my last post, I gave an overview and a timeline for making learning part of an integrated talent development process, rather than an activity or isolated event that gets a “check” next to it when completed. In this post, I’ll offer a few specific actions to be taken, before any training activity.

Ideally, participants should be invited to attend a training session by their direct supervisor or manager. This personalizes the training, builds a positive readiness for it, and sets the expectation of accountability to learn and use the skills or knowledge from the training.

Participants should be given an overview of the training program and how it fits with the larger business strategy and goals, as well as any required prework/preparation in sufficient time for them to complete it.

Customization of materials, especially including using language, examples, and even video, if possible, helps bring the content from “off-the-shelf” to relevant. This can be accomplished through interviews with employees from the target population to be trained, as well as with their leadership.

Who should be in the training room? It’s often advisable to schedule participants with no more than one “level” of supervision above and below, for a maximum of three levels in any given session. Personally, I like homogenous groups, but one level of supervision can work well, also, and sometimes is even preferred (for example, when a side goal of the training event includes team-building for an intact work group).

Along these lines, it’s almost always best for management and supervision to take the same training that they send their people to, even if it’s not with their people. This supports the training on several levels: everyone will learn the same skills so that there can be a common language and process in the workplace; it minimizes the common objection and resistance to training of “this is great, but the real people who should be here are our bosses;” managers and supervisors will be better able to reinforce and correct the targeted skills by learning them and participating in the training; and managers and supervisors will be better able to use and model the targeted skills on-the-job if they’ve participated in the training.

19.12.2011 Talent Management and Development No Comments

Making Learning Stick: Part 1 of 4

I just kicked off a Train-the-Trainer program earlier this week for the local chapter of the ASTD. One thing that I love about doing a program such as this is that it really forces me to “sharpen my own axe” and go back to the fundamentals of good analysis to develop an appropriate solution to a real business problem. When the solution includes training, whether it’s of knowledge or skill, it’s vitally important to think through not just the training event’s design, but all the things that will support successful transfer from the workshop to the workplace.

The research confirms what we’ve known all along: a one-shot, lecture-based “knowledge infusion” isn’t effective in getting sustained performance improvement and business results. After about one month, knowledge retention is about 34% compared with immediately after a workshop; after three months, it falls to 16%; after six months, about 5%, or less.

Rather than an isolated event, learning needs to occur as part of an integrated process in order to produce business results. If you had limited time and budget, yet had a high need to take a vacation, it would be silly to just get in the car and start driving without any sense of what you want to do or where you’re heading. How could you possibly answer your young passengers’ plaintive wail, “Are we there yet?” if you don’t know where “there” is? So, also, is it folly to just jump into a performance development event without deciding on a desired outcome—related to an important business need, mapping out a route, anticipating and planning for roadblocks and hazards along the way, doing some preventative maintenance upfront and along the way, and making adjustments for the unexpected as you progress.

There are critical conversations an employee must have and actions they need to take before and after, as well as during any well-designed learning initiative.

Over the next several blog posts, I’ll delve specifically into what the training professional in partnership with the client can do to promote successful learning transfer that will lead to the client achieving their desired business performance.