“A little knowledge that acts is worth infinitely more than much knowledge that is idle” – Kahlil Gibran
Many managers believe that people development is solved through training. What they often forget is that there are factors that influence how effectively the employee implements new skills after a training program.
These factors include the individual’s desire for learning, their expectations of the training, the quality of the learning environment and other aspects beyond the classroom, such as stress at work or issues at home.
Here we focus on the role of the manager / coach in the effectiveness of skills transfer from training into the workplace.
There are three things a manager should do when their employee attends a skills training program:
- Understand the employee’s perspective on the training BEFORE they attend – ‘What is your objective at this course?’, ‘What do you hope to get out of it to help you in your daily work?’ – and also explain any expectations they may have as a manager – ‘I’ve asked you to attend this program because…’, ‘After this course, I hope you will have further skills to…’
- Follow up with the employee as soon as possible after the training to understand what they learnt from the program, how they will use the skills and any developmental ACTION PLAN they may have.
- The manager should then COACH to the new skills and objectives – not just once, but several times to ensure support and ongoing implementation of skills.
No matter how fabulous a training program is, if the skills covered are not used and coached afterwards, the benefits will be negligible. The reason? Trying out a new skill in the workplace can initially feel awkward and so may not always be successful. This can put some people off and they may go back to their old way of doing things. However, if they stick at it they will become more comfortable with the skills and start to see results.
This is where a manager can provide valuable support with coaching to help employees through the initial awkwardness. By encouraging employees to harness their strengths and apply them to new skills, or to help them focus on what aspects are challenging them, a coach can help the coachee to build awareness and take responsibility for applying what they have learnt in the classroom.
Training is the building block for development, while coaching helps the learning live.
A large international company has studied this interplay of coaching and training in detail. They found that not coaching post-training led to an eighty-seven percent loss of any skills change the program initially created. (Six characteristics of world-class sales coaches – Scott K Edinger, Huthwaite)
Do you want to throw away eighty-seven cents in every dollar that you spend on skills training?
If not, then it seems that the answer is to coach your employees after they attend training! A hectic workplace does not always make this easy, but it is important.
To help managers out, training professionals should be able to provide suggestions for follow-up and coaching activities. They are also a source of information to further understand your employee’s strengths to help implement the skills and their focus areas for development. Whilst often a trainer’s perspective is only a snapshot from the training room, it certainly will add to the information you already possess as a manager.
So the next time you have an employee attending a training program, what will you do? And as an employee, what will you expect of your manager to support your learning?
engagingPOTENTIAL: training, team development, coaching
Specialising in working with managers to develop extraordinary teams!