If you’re going to invest in a training program, you should set your organization up for success. Otherwise, your employees may feel they are victims of “drive-by trainings” and lament their wasted time. If there is no benefit for them, there is no benefit to your organization.
As someone who provides workshops and training to organizations industry-wide, I have an inside view of what makes those trainings successful. I want my work to spur positive organizational change, whether that’s productivity, company culture, interpersonal relationships, employee engagement, emotional intelligence, or leadership skills. So I’m going to share 10 insider tips that make training programs successful.
Make Employee Training Programs Successful With These 10 Tips
Leadership Support From the Top
Successful training programs need leadership sponsorship. Leaders must communicate to employees early on why the training is important and how it will help them. This message should be reiterated with at least a five-minute introduction at the training by an organizational leader.
Continue the Conversation
Training programs are not one-stop shops. My role is to kick off the conversation and provide the knowledge and tools for change. The organization’s role is to keep that conversation going. It’s not possible to fix everything in two hours so it’s best if organizations follow up with ongoing, internal discussions.
Another way to keep the conversation going is by providing employees with additional resources, such as articles, videos, podcasts, or exercises. Some employers may even choose to gift books to those who complete a training program.
People Want to Be There
You can never guarantee that people genuinely want to be in the training, but there are a few ways to increase the odds. One way is to communicate with employees to see what kinds of training they would want, or what they feel would benefit their teams. Another way is to send out a survey for employee input. The survey can be specifically about training, or it can be about ways in which team members think their team, or the organization, could improve.
It sounds simple, but serving a meal before the training makes a big difference because it acts as a communication forcing mechanism. Sitting around and eating together creates conversation, which can be increased when table discussion topics are introduced. This only works if laptops and phones are put away and trainings are in a work-free zone.
The Organizational Coordinator is Engaged
Chose an engaged employee to coordinate the presentation details. If I don’t even know who is introducing me before the training, or they don’t even know the topic, that’s a problem.
Inform Your Trainer How the Specific Program Ties to the Organizational Goals
Tell your trainer why this topic is important now and how it fits in your organization. If the people who hired me haven’t thought about it, I tell them to back up and rethink it before committing to a specific training program.
Clear Program Description
Again, this seems simple, yet is very important. The program description needs to be very clear so employees know what to expect, and are geared up for participation. If the description is intriguing—even better. It’s good to use facts and statistics in your program description; it helps employees see the importance of the topic.
I always hold debrief calls with leadership after I complete a training. For example, if you’re supposed to have 30 participants and only 15 attend, that says the training wasn’t communicated well and/or leadership didn’t express how important it was. Spending money and time on a training program, but not communicating the importance of attending, is a wasted opportunity for growth.
Timing is important; don’t schedule me with tax accountants April 12th. Know your busiest time of the year, and avoid those for training programs. Find the slowest time of the year instead.
Collect Data From Employees Before and After
Use a survey or other method to measure things such as employee engagement or attitudes toward work before the training takes place. What you measure depends on your topic. The best time to collect data is six months after the program. A key question to ask is, “Did you actually apply this to your job?” What ever you were hoping to accomplish with your training can be measured in this way.
Research shows that professional development and learning opportunities are key for employee engagement:
- Belief in senior leadership is the strongest engagement driver, growth & development is the second (Modern Survey)
- 52% of millennials say opportunities for career progression is the most desirable quality in a workplace, competitive wages and financial incentives (44%), good training and development programs (35%) (PWC)
- Employees who get the opportunity to continually develop are twice as likely to say they will spend their career with their company (Gallup)
- 53% of Millennials say learning new things or having access to professional development opportunities would make them stay at their job (EdAssist)
So if you want to keep your talent, I recommend you offer employees the chance to develop their skills. Not to mention, your whole organization will benefit from the new knowledge, positive change, and resulting employee engagement. Check out my workshops here, or contact me for individualized programs.
I’d love to hear your good and bad training stories. Has there been a total training flop in your organization? Have you ever felt like a victim of a “drive-by training”? Have you witnessed transformation in your team due to a particularly successful training? Let me know in the comment section below, send me an email, or find me on Twitter.