Business’ role and responsibility in society is greater than generating a profit or maximizing shareholder value. While these metrics are critical to success, the true impact of a company is more substantial than a simple numeric metric. Once people start full-time work, studies show, they spend more than 50% of their waking hours in work- or work-related activities. The workplace becomes the primary place where employees learn to work with others, overcome obstacles, achieve personal and team success, and develop emotional intelligence. However, few businesses embrace their role in positively impacting their employees, customers and communities.
Business is a microcosm of society. From an economic perspective, work is how employees generate income that supports their life and the lives of the people within their communities. From a social perspective, the workplace is where people learn, grow and develop — or not. Each business is a cog in the overall economic and social system of the country.
Since business is a microcosm of society, and we spend most of our time in work-related activities, an organization’s ability to train and develop its people has an impact on more than its profitability. Just as culture influences social behaviors, the business culture influences how people behave. As a result, for training to be effective, it must influence and become part of the business culture.
Here is a list of five essential components that maximize training’s effectiveness in adapting to a blended world and influencing culture:
1. Clear and High Training Expectations
Corporate training has the potential to positively impact employees’ ability to lead and communicate, how they work with colleagues, how they engage with customers and even how they show up in their homes. When developing a training program, set high expectations, because it has the power to change lives. Recognizing and embracing training’s potential as a change agent will enhance training development, effectiveness and outcomes.
2. A Professional, Interruption-free Environment
A place where you can eliminate interruptions is the best environment for training, whether it’s off site or on site. There should be natural light, if possible, or good indoor lighting capabilities, as well as space to move around and break out into smaller groups.
When conducting online training, create an environment with music during breaks that mixes up the training and stimulates thought when participants return. Use breakout rooms to create different environments and advance learning.
3. Content and Subject Matter With Depth That Meets Expectations
A company’s chief executive officer and chief human resources were committed to investing in their leadership team to improve the organization’s culture. They were discouraged by the lack of depth and limited creativity they were seeing; they wanted to find a program where the topics and content were meaningful to the participants. It was critical that the employees learned skills to help them at work and at home. As a result, they implemented a program where the content was consistent with the organization’s cultural standards and reinforced their desire to invest in building better employees.
It all started with the content. At the core of training is content, and effective delivery cannot make up for poor content.
4. Engagement Through Multiple Types of Training
Use multiple forms of learning engagement, including eLearning, microlearning, and face-to-face individual and group training. In the most effective master of business administration (MBA) classes, teaching happens in an engaging process using a variety of forms of learning. It uses a progression, beginning with individual video microlearning and eLearning and supported by individual written activities prior to class. When class begins, students share their pre-work in small groups and later discuss it dynamically with the entire class.
This progression leverages various forms of applied learning and different types of learning tools. This concept is taken from research on consumer marketing, which reveals the need to expose buyers to a marketing concept seven different ways before they respond. Making varied impressions enhances retention and application.
5. Reinforcement Through Peer Accountability Groups
Think back to 1955, when Rosa Parks decided to stay in her seat on the bus in Birmingham, Ala. She didn’t set out to change the country, but she did. She also wasn’t the first African American to sit in the white section of the bus — so, why did her experience become the catalyst for change? It turns out, Ms. Parks was well connected in Montgomery, and those networks became an important part of the Civil Rights Movement.
In business, highly effective training programs integrate networks into the post-training platform. These networks become small groups that provide participants with a structure to review, apply and reinforce the knowledge and behaviors from the training program. These internal peer groups also serve to help learners hold each other accountable. Peer groups are the foundation for social change outside of work, and they should be at the core of cultural change inside organizations. As a result, training programs have the potential to become the key to growth and development within companies.
Corporate training and development can be the spark that builds organizational culture. Training positively impacts the lives of employees, so they take better care of their colleagues and customers and collectively build better communities. It is through training that companies can play a significant economic and social role on communities and the country at large.
The five steps highlighted here are critical to realize training potential. The first four steps are familiar to most, but the last component increases training effectiveness substantially. When organizations take these steps, training becomes the stimulus for enhancing culture, companies and communities.