Reinforcement is key.
Once your employees have gone through training or learned something new, it is important to follow up with them. Not only does follow-up give you a chance to hear what your employees really think about their newly acquired skill or knowledge, but it also demonstrates your interest in your employees' success. Further, it provides an opportunity for you to ask employees what resources and support they need to transfer the training into their real-time environment.
Having effective and consistent follow-up shows that you believe in what was taught during training. By following up, you convey a message of seriousness and importance. This is an essential step in the overall training initiative—if management isn't following up, employees will wonder why they should bother implementing the new skills or procedures.
Keep in mind that follow-up can be done in various ways. Below are a few tips to assist you with your follow-up once your training is complete:
- Don't let too much time pass after the training. You want the training to be fresh in their minds.
- Get your employees involved. Ask your employees how they would like to have follow-up conducted.
- Allow your employees to be creative with their own ways to reinforce the training and new skills they learned. Be supportive and receptive to their ideas.
- Assign periodic assignments on different topics from the training. This allows employees to use their training materials and tools they have available to them.
- Assign a "mentee" to each employee who attended the training. Ask the employee to teach one topic a week to their new "mentee."
- If your employees developed action plans as part of their training, meet with them individually to check the progress.
- Put together a short questionnaire and e-mail it to your employees to get their feedback.
- Be attentive. Observe your employees in action as they put their new skills into effect.
- Encourage your managers and supervisors to put the skills they learned from training into practice immediately. They can lead by example.
As with most worthwhile efforts, effective learning takes time and practice. The more you do something, the easier it becomes. This is why it is so important to ensure that your employees get the appropriate follow-up to their training. By doing so, you can increase your employees' retention rate of the skills they learned. Remember, if you don't implement a follow-up plan with your employees, who will?
Coaching Tip: As you are conducting follow-up to your employee training, schedule meetings with your employees individually. Ask them to be honest with you, and share both good and bad experiences they have had while implementing the new skills they learned from training. This will make your employees feel that they have a say in their development, and that you value their opinion.
Peggy Carlaw is the founder of Impact Learning Systems. Impact helps companies create a customer-focused culture and improve the customer experience while producing measurable business results.