We all know that training your employees costs money. If you are the recipient of a training class your company provided or sent you to, there was a cost involved. Even internal training classes, although it’s harder to see, have a cost associated with them. There is the time the trainer spends to prepare and facilitate the class and the time cost for you to be off the job while attending the class. When you start to add up all these costs it becomes critical that all of those training costs need to count. The best way to ensure the return on investment from your training dollars is to find ways to make the training stick. In other words, it has to have an impact or produce results in a short period of time.
Too often, the responsibility (or implied responsibility) for making this knowledge transfer take hold falls on the training department. This is a mistake. While there are things the trainer can do to help with this, the accountability for making sure the training sticks lies with learner and the learner’s manager.
To have the greatest chance for success with your training efforts, both internally and externally, there are things that each stakeholder should do.
The Training Participant’s Responsibility
If you are the learner, there are things you can do before and after your training to help solidify your learning.
- Before the learning event, write a goal for what you want to accomplish as a result of the training class.
- Have a brief conversation with your manager to get his/her expectation for why you are attending the training.
- After the class, make a written list of the key learnings you took away from the class.
- Identify up to 3 (no more than 3) things that you will do differently as a result of the training.
- Have a conversation with your manager to share your learning and your plan.
The Manager’s Responsibility
If you are sending one of your employees to a training program, it’s your responsibility to make sure the cost is justified.
- Familiarize yourself with the learning objectives of the program your employee is attending.
- If possible, talk to the facilitator to ask for acceptable follow-up activities to do after the class.
- Meet with the employee soon after the training class to ask about their key takeaways and action items as they relate to their new learning.
- Follow-up to see if the employee has implemented any of their action items.
- Never, ever make the following statement, “That sounds interesting, but it’s not how we do things here”.
The Trainer’s Responsibilities
Your responsibility lies primarily in the classroom. Having said that, there are things you can do to help your learners with retention once they leave your care.
- Build some type of action planning exercise or activity into your content. Make sure it’s given the same importance as other content.
- Allow time for the learners to think about how the learning applies to their job and what they will do to implement.
- Give learners the opportunity to practice the skills learned while in your safe environment. Not only will this show you they have learned the content, but that they have a good chance of replicating it on the job.
Our Essential Skills series from Vital Learning takes the guesswork out of training transfer. Each program has built in skill practice sessions as well as action planning forms and worksheets. Every class also has a clearly defined set of skill points and objectives that can be given to managers in advance. This helps managers to have conversations both before and after the training.
A little planning by all parties involved, will go a long way in helping make sure your training dollars are being well spent.