Research by Training Industry has found that one of the major challenges learning leaders face is sustaining the impact of training – making sure that after completing the program learners actually retain and apply what they’ve learned on the job one month, six months and even years afterward.

In this episode of “The Business of Learning,” Dr. Sam Shriver, executive vice president of The Center for Leadership Studies, and Doug Harward, founder and CEO of Training Industry, discuss a new model for sustaining the impact of leadership training: the Four Moments of Truth.

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The transcript of this episode follows.

PODCAST INTRO: Welcome to The Business of Learning podcast from https://trainingindustry.com

TARYN OESCH: Hello and welcome to a special bonus episode of the business of learning. I’m Taryn Oesch, managing editor of digital content at Training Industry. Research by Training Industry has found that one of the major challenges learning leaders face is sustaining the impact of training – making sure that after completing the program learners actually retain and apply what they’ve learned on the job one month, six months and even years afterward. Our guests today are here to share some insights on a new model to help sustain leadership training. This episode of the business of learning is sponsored by the Center for Leadership Studies.

[ Sponsor Message – Celebrating their 50th anniversary this year, The Center for Leadership Studies, founded by Dr. Paul Hersey, is the global home of Situational Leadership®. With over 14 million leaders trained, Situational Leadership® is the most successful and widely adopted leadership model available. The Center for Leadership Studies offers influence-focused courses that enable leaders to engage in effective performance conversations that build trust, increase productivity and drive behavior change. Learn more at situational.com. ]

TARYN OESCH: Today we’re talking with Doug Harward, founder and CEO of Training Industry, and Dr. Sam Schriver, executive vice president of the Center for Leadership Studies. Thanks to you both for being here.

SAM SHRIVER: Thanks for having me.

DOUG HARWARD: Thanks Taryn, pleasure to be here.

TARYN OESCH: Alright Doug, let’s start with you. Based on your experience and the research that Training Industry is done, can you share why it’s important to have a model or an approach in place to sustain training and why doing so can be such a challenge for learning leaders?

DOUG HARWARD: Sure, Taryn. If you go back for, quite frankly, many decades in the training profession, it’s been a common view that we have struggled with being able to demonstrate the value of what we do and the perceived value that training is having on the impact of somebody’s job performance or somebody’s skills. And what research has been teaching us over the last number of years, quite frankly, for last couple of decades, is that, really, a very small percentage of the information that we need to achieve a high level performance on the job comes from [when] we attend that training course or that program. It really is the encapsulation of all the different things that happens pre- the course or before the course or before we take the course, and the relationships we may have with our manager or peers prior to that course. Then, what happens during the course and but then also what happens, post a course – you know, do we practice it? How do we put it into application? What conversations are we having with our manager or coach or peers afterwards?

So the idea of sustainment really deals with the idea, we believe, that we have to rethink what the learning experience really is and move from where we are just so focused just on the event, but think about, you know, all of the time it takes for somebody to kind of gain and master a skill; includes practice, improve relationships, all those kind of things. And that’s why we were so excited when we learned about the work of Sam and his team of the for moments of truth, because it really could put together in a very succinct model, you know, how we how we look at those total experiences into, you know, kind of into a total package.

TARYN OESCH: So Sam, that’s a good segue. Can you tell us a little bit about this new model and how you developed it?

SAM SHRIVER: Sure, and I sincerely thank you, Doug, for the for the kind words here, but I think the one word answer to, you know, so where did this model come from, it would be, you know, it came from our customers. I think when you’re on the supplier side of the equation, historically, you were defined by your content. You were either the Situational Leadership people or the emotional intelligence people or the social styles people or, you know whatever it happened to be, and your content sort of competed with other content. I think as our industry and the whole idea of leadership development, you know, has matured, and our customers have become, you know, much more interested in integration, for lack of a better term. How does your content merge with other content, to accelerate our efforts to build leaders? It’s not only that, in this day and age, of course; it’s what formats you have your, you know, your content in, you know, is it is it online. Is it blended, can it be taken virtually, and I’m assuming, you know, there’s a traditional classroom version of it? So, that’s another component, another layer of complexity, if you will, that wasn’t there certainly decades ago. And the other thing is the whole idea of, what do you have that will help us transfer the training, you know, sustain it, pull it through? What does your organization offer to ensure that we not only teach Situational Leadership, but that we build situational leaders? You know, so first and foremost, the credit for the development of the four moments of truth goes to a number of customers that we have been blessed with the opportunity to work with over the years.

And then when you say to yourselves as a supplier, “OK, we’re going to develop something that helps our customers transfer the message and do this sustainment thing in their environments,” you know, you go, you know, to a mini research project. And, like you do with anything these days, right, you Google something. And if you were to Google measuring the effectiveness of a training program, you know, throw that in. And what you find is that there are literally thousands, maybe tens of thousands, of methodologies, different models, different systems, different research. And, you know, the bad news associated with that overwhelming glut of information is that a lot of it, you just don’t want to waste your time with. Right? The good news is, is that there are many very viable frameworks and models that have existed for an extended period of time, that can be leveraged to help you put together a system that will, you know, transfer your training, you know, whatever it is, your, attendance.

And in that regard, we picked three primary sources: the Kirkpatrick Model, and, to make a distinction there, it’s much more the more recent work of Jim and Wendy Kirkpatrick at the Kirkpatrick Partners, where the essence of what they have done with the four levels, you know, of learning and then the whole idea of, you know, level one, two, three, and four outcomes, you know, did you like the experience, did you learn anything, did your behavior change at all, and did that behavior translate to results? What they’ve done, we used to think about that model sort of working from the bottom up, and what they’ve done is said “No, no, consider that model from the top down. If you want a seat at the big table, if you want training to be seen as a viable entity, you know, within your organization, start with the priorities and the goals of top-level management and what the organization is there to do.”

So, start with those big-picture outcomes and those targeted objectives, and then ask yourself the question, “OK, to achieve those, what change in behavior, or how can how can we put together training that changes the behavior of key people in key sets of circumstances within our organization, to accelerate their development to produce those results?” And so if you take those things into consideration first, then you get yourself back down into, “Now, OK, we’ve got to design a training program. And we’ve got to design a training program not only that learners like, and that they learn content that is important, but as Doug says, that content is integrated with their real-world frontline managers – you know, it aligns with the needs of the organization, it aligns with the priorities and in the context of, you know, building leaders.” You know, a lot of that has to come into play before you start to, you know, put together design, develop and deliver training just that’s focused on, you know, the classroom environment. It extends far beyond that. So, the Kirkpatrick Model, the new Kirkpatrick Model, is one that was absolutely a foundational underpinning of the four moments of truth.

Also, the work of Broad and Newstrom. They were one of the first research teams that sort of was focused on answering the question, “We know that level-one outcomes are correlated with level-two outcomes. If you like the training program, you’re probably you’re going to learn something. If you learn something in the training program, you probably will have liked it. And also, the correlation between level three and level four, if you change your behavior, it stands to reason, you’re going to get different results. If you want different results, it stands to reason that you’re going to have to change behavior. But historically, there’s really been nothing that links or correlates learning with behavior change,” which is where other players outside of the training environment becomes so crucial. They are the folks in the real world, if they know what’s happening in training, have the most power and the most potential to link what the learner learns in training for the performance of the job to the results that the organization seeks. So the work of Broad and Newstrom also is kind of a foundational underpinning, you know, of the four moments of truth.

And then also the work of Robert Brinckerhoff. His research over time in a meta-analysis has established irrefutably that if you have the next level manager of the person that’s going through training actively involved before the trainee actually enters into the training environment – so immediately before and also immediately after – the probability of transfer of training in behavior change is impacted by 65 percent. So he measured retention, primarily, and what he found is where you have next level managers that are actively involved immediate pre and immediate post, retention of the training content is accelerated by up to 65 percent. And the reason for that is it’s not that they remembered the training just for the sake of remembering the training. It’s that from the moment they got out of training, they were applying what they learned to the real world. So application drove that retention. It wasn’t just special retention with no connection to application or results.

So, in brief encapsulation, customers are at the base of this for us, and content-wise, the new Kirkpatrick Model, Broad and Newstrom, and also the work of Robert Brinkerhoff.

DOUG HARWARD: And, Sam, you know, I would add that even more recent research by Anders Ericsson has also had kind of an interesting correlation to the research that that you cited. That is, that Anders Ericsson, in studying people, not so much in the training profession, but more in, whether it be athletes or musicians or now even surgeons, you know, how did they achieve expert performance? And one of the things that he found was this correlation to repetition and practice post some type of learning experience, right, the idea that when they go back to job – this is exactly what you just speaking of – when they go back to the job, they’re actually applying it in a real world situation, but they’re also doing it in a very deliberate way.

But I think what one of the things that I’ve taken from Anders’ work that that really applies to the four moments of truth in a very nice way is his focus on the relationship of the learner to the coach and how important that coach is to that learning experience – that you know we can go and learn something on our own, but without that relationship, with a coach who has given us direction or giving us feedback and helping us with, “Hey, maybe you want to try this way,” or, “Have you tried that,” or a “focus on this” – that that coach allows us to take that level of performance to another level. And I think that’s really, really an important takeaway from that research.

SAM SHRIVER: Oh yeah, and I, as you well know, because we are both huge fans of Anders Ericsson and you know, comparatively, a lot of people are not familiar with that name or with his research, but when you when you ask them the question, you know, “Did you ever read that book by Malcolm Gladwell, ‘Outliers’?” They’ll go like, “Oh, yeah.” “What was your favorite chapter?” “Oh, you know, 10,000 hours.” Well, Malcolm Gladwell took Anders Ericsson’s (with permission and everything), took Anders Ericsson’s research. OK, and that was that was where that chapter came from. And really, what Anders Ericsson does is he dispels this myth that it almost doesn’t matter what you’re doing, doesn’t matter what the nature of your performance is, but you have a tendency to associate, just really high levels of peak performance sort of record-setting performance with special talent, with just innate tools that the rest of us weren’t born with. And his life’s research is basically been to say that that isn’t true at all. That isn’t true at all, like, peak performance is a function of deliberate practice – perfect practice, taking something, understanding it, and putting it into play and getting a little bit better, and a little bit better, and a little bit better. Sometimes, there’s breakthroughs, you know, that take place, but getting a little bit better over time.

And to your point, Doug, that really brings into play two things. You’ve got to have two things for all of this to work, right? You mentioned the coach, you know, and I’ve mentioned the coach – the whole idea of the next level manager and their involvement, you know, proactively, in immediate post what is learned. The other thing is the learner. You know, you’ve got to have a learner. You’ve got to have somebody that’s going into the training experience, and two things in relation to expectation theory: They value getting better at whatever it is they’re learning, and they also see themselves being successful doing that. You know, we all had a course in college, right, or at least most of us did, well, forget most of us, I certainly did, where if you could have gotten out of that course, you would have done so in a heartbeat. You were taking it because you had to, you had to endure, you know. So you went to the class, you read the stuff, you took the test, you wrote the papers, you took the final exam, and you walked out and you threw your notes away, and you haven’t thought about that course since, I think.

The learner, OK, going into the learning experience, if you’re interested in this, pull through and transfer and sustainment and all that sort of thing, they are such an important part, you know, of the equation. So, in the context of the world that that, you know, my colleagues and I at the Center for Leadership Studies, you have people that are going to leadership training, but when it comes right down to it, they’re just really not that interested, you know, in becoming a better leader, well, you know what? They’re, they’re not going to be. You know, it’s just not going to happen. They need to, from a very mature standpoint, recognize that that what you get in the classroom is like taking, you know, reading a book on golf. OK? It doesn’t make you a golfer. Enduring or actively participating in a one- or two-day experience, you know, focused on leadership development, leadership training, doesn’t make you a leader. Right? I mean, you got a certificate, but that means you know what was you know what was in the course. The whole idea of applying that is a completely different thing. It’s a very iterative process. It is driven by the whole idea of, you know, to quote Anders Ericsson again, that whole “perfect practice” thing. It’s about sitting down with somebody after training. OK? And the best thing is to have it be your next-level manager, but it could be a pure coach or somebody else, and saying, “Here’s something I want to get better at.” “OK, let’s come up with a plan, how are you going to do this? What is it going to look like, what role am I going to play?” And you are receptive to an act upon feedback on the basis of actually putting that skill into practice. You learn stuff. In some cases, it’s very, very, it’s painful. It’s not easy to take, but you take, you know, sort of, that development or those setbacks or whatever, and you put it into the context of “Overall, I’m going to keep plugging at this. I’m going to keep, I’m going to keep trying.”

So, that is also, I agree with you totally Anders Ericsson and his work, a really big part in a foundational, you know, kind of piece of the foundation of the Four Moments of Truth.

TARYN OESCH: All right, Sam, what are those Four Moments of Truth?

SAM SHRIVER: Well, thank you! I thought you were never going to ask. But it really does follow, if you can just think of kind of this three, the three steps that Broad and Newstrom came up with in the mid-1980s, there’s sort of three time periods, right? There’s what goes on before training. And then there’s the training program itself. And then there’s what goes on immediately after training. And so what we’ve done is we’ve taken, you know, those three and expanded it a little bit. And we’ve also focused on along with the different, you know, time periods, you know, if you think about three key players that really are responsible, and we’ve talked about it already, three key players that really drive, you know, any kind of sustainment or transfer of training effort. And one is, obviously, you know, the trainer. You know, the person that is putting the program on, and that’s not necessarily just the facilitator, but the facilitator as he or she represents the designers of the program, the developers of the program, everybody in the training department. So there’s the trainer. There’s the trainee, there’s the participant, the learner, the person that’s going to be going through it. And then there’s the next-level manager. There’s the person that is the manager, you know, the direct supervisor of the individual that’s going to be engaging with the trainer to go through the training.

So if you can think about in general, those three time periods and those three players, our first moment of truth is something that we effectively refer to as same-page status, and it’s really about the next-level manager getting together with the trainee before training and talking about and debriefing, “All right, you’re going to this course on Situational Leadership. How do you think, just in general terms, where do you need to improve as a leader? You know, we’ve had discussions, we’ve had some things that we’ve talked about, but as it applies to leadership and your review of the objectives of this course and the competencies that it speaks to, what do you want to get better at? Where do you really need to improve? You know, where do you struggle?” Or, quite frankly, “What are you pretty good at now that it’d make a lot more sense for you to get that much better?” So it’s a general discussion that place, driven by the manager, before training, that, if nothing else, it aligns expectations.

Taryn, I would ask you, and I would ask your listeners, to think about this: If your boss was sitting down with you before you went into training, during that first moment of truth, same-page status, and there was no doubt in your mind that your boss thought this was a valuable experience and that your boss was setting an expectation that he or she was going to talk with you after you got out of training to see what you learned, to further fine-tune your plan to become a better leader, the probability that you would enter into that, you know, training event and be a little bit more, at least a little bit more engaged, and pay at least a little bit more attention, and walk out with something that was pretty darn specific associated with what you were going to do differently as a result, and how you were going to implement what you learned, it’s significantly increased. So that first moment of truth, same-page status, is really driven or facilitated by the next level manager.

The second moment of truth is the actual training program itself, and the term that we have coined for the second moment of truth is the whole idea of maximum engagement. And that is really on the shoulders of the trainee. So, if you think about going into a training program where you are not going to sit there and be, you know, some sort of a, you know, wait for something to happen, you’re going to drive the action, because you have objectives to achieve, you know, my suggestion is, you know, you would prepare differently for the course. You would think about things, even on your own, from a pre-work standpoint, as to questions you were going to ask and things that you were going to make sure that you got out of this particular, you know, content, whatever it was. You’re going to push the facilitator; you’re going to ask a variety of different questions. When you’re in group settings with your peers, you know, you’re really going to be interested in engaging with them and get as much as you can possibly get out of that training program to fulfill your requirements to go back and talk with your manager.

The third moment of truth, in all deference to Anders Ericsson, is called perfect practice. What you’re doing in the third moment of truth is really fine-tuning and getting your application activity and sharing that with, you know, your next-level manager and saying, “This is what I want to do. This is the first step I want to take to becoming a better leader. This is who I want to implement this with. This is the struggles I think I’m going to have. This is where I need work.” Ut’s really sort of communicating that plan to your manager and the next-level manager working with you to give you, you know, sort of access to their experience and, as Doug mentioned before, you know, to coach and to facilitate your implementation and then, also much more importantly, to review, you know, the first time that your first or second or third or tenth time. It’s actually an attempt to lead, OK, or, you know, whatever the circumstance happens to be, providing you with feedback that says, “Here’s what worked, here’s what you might want to work on for next time. Let’s put something else, you know, on the calendar and talk about this. But let’s keep this going. Let’s keep this rolling.”

And the next-level manager, in particular, during that third moment of truth, perfect practice, is the key person that integrates what is being learned into what is being done, you know, so the behavior change responsibility, that connection or that correlation between level two and level three, it’s really a product of the collaboration between the next-level manager and the trainee, you know, post-program.

And then at some juncture, the fourth moment of truth, it sort of rolls into ongoing coaching or the or the name that we have come up with or coined for the fourth moment of truth, is performance support. At some juncture, what you’ve learned and what you’ve implemented and the behavior change that you’ve made, it just sort of becomes part of your ongoing, you know, performance as a leader, as a manager in the division or department where you work.

So, the four moments of truth: same-page status; maximum engagement during moment of truth 2 by the participant, by the learner; third moment of truth, perfect practice; and the final moment of truth, and kind of an ongoing moment of truth, is performance support.

TARYN OESCH: And what results are you hoping that organizations will see when they implement this model at their organizations?

SAM SHRIVER: Yeah, I don’t think anything new here in terms of impact analysis. I think, basically, as I said, you know, we are a leadership and an influence, you know, organization – that’s what we teach. Some people refer to those as soft skills; our master facilitator at the Center for Leadership Studies, Chris McLean, says you know, “These aren’t soft skills. These are really, really hard skills, you know. These are skills that are really, you know, really difficult.” But, like I say, no news here in terms of what do we think organizations are going to see and what results have we already seen with the implementation of the four moments of truth.

You’re going to see productivity increases. You’re going to see success in that regard. You’re going to have leaders that are getting the most out of the people that work with them and for them. You’re going to see accelerated development on the part of leaders that are that are working with people that are developing skills. You’re going to see less regression, you know, or less sort of performance slippage, because leaders are going to be on top of those things and discussing those issues, you know, as soon as they happen, to sort of stop that and redirect performance. You’re going to see productivity gains; you’re going to see increased engagement; you’re going to see people that work for this particular leader say, “You know what, this manager, my leader, my supervisor, seems to know when to do what. They seem to know when to let me, you know, empower me to do what I know how to do, provide me with direction when I need direction, and sort of talk with me or discuss things with me when I’m someplace in between.”

There’s going to be increased engagement as a result of that leader driving performance, but also kind of letting followers, meeting followers where they are and sort of managing or influencing to their specific needs. And I think because of that, the third thing you have a tendency to see over time is increased retention. You know, age-old thing, right? People don’t leave companies they leave supervisors or managers, you know, so it’s not like you would eliminate that, but what you should see is less, you know, retention challenges with people, in our view, that are situational leaders, than you would, you know, in situations where they’re where they aren’t. But those are the, those are the kinds of results, I think traditionally, of how you evaluate – you know, through 360s or whatever it happens to be, you know – the results of leadership training: productivity, engagement and retention.

TARYN OESCH: Right, Doug Harward, CEO of Training Industry, and Dr. Sam Shriver, executive vice president of the Center for Leadership Studies, thanks for coming on The Business of Learning today.

SAM SHRIVER: Surely appreciate the opportunity to both of you.

DOUG HARWARD: Same here. Thank you, Taryn. Thank you, Sam, for being here.

TARYN OESCH: For more information on this topic, visit our website at Training Industry.com/leadership, and we’ll have links to other helpful resources on the episode page which you can find at https://trainingindustry.com/training-industry-podcast. Thanks for listening to “The Business of Learning.”

PODCAST OUTRO: If you have feedback about this episode, or would like to suggest a topic for a future program, email us at info@trainingindustry.com or use the Contact Us page at trainingindustry.com. Thanks for listening to the Training Industry podcast.

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