Return on investment (ROI) frequently takes the limelight in discussions about training. Organizations investing in a training program want to ensure the results they see will be more than worth their initial investment. After all, no organization wants to undergo an intensive change initiative, such as training, to see it fail.
One surefire way to ensure your training initiative will thrive and exceed your expected returns is to choose a quality training provider or curriculum that aligns with your organization’s culture. Beyond this step, however, there are three additional ways you can set the stage for a successful major training initiative.
1. Involve the Highest Level of Your Organization’s Leadership
It is important for senior leaders to have a physical presence at the kick-off training event and throughout the process. They should also have a role in helping the rest of the workforce understand the significance of the training. If they explain the reasons for the training, in the frame of reference of everyone involved, they can help to build consensus and, ultimately, acceptance.
Perhaps the most important role of leadership in the training process is during the post-program integration of the training into the organization’s existing processes and culture. At this time, the initial excitement of the training initiative often wears off, and old processes and approaches threaten to seep back in. To prevent people from inadvertently reverting to what they are more familiar with, leaders should publicly acknowledge progress toward the desired outcome of the training initiative, which ultimately has the effect of reinforcing the work people are doing.
2. Engage Mid-level Managers to Promote the Benefits of Training
Any training initiative needs a champion or a steering committee to guide the process. Mid-level managers are perfect for the job, considering the duality of their role: They’re closer to the frontline but still in a position of influence. It is up to them first to clarify the training within their own ranks and then to develop a precise picture of the training program’s goal. They should communicate this shared vision to all employees using a variety of communication methods, both formal and informal, such as scheduled meetings, written memos and emails, webinars, chance conversations, and focused group chats.
Important to the role of mid-level managers in boosting the impact of training is a commitment to doing whatever it takes to make the program a success. In other words, managers must remain steadfast in their vision so as not to cave in at the first sign of resistance. The support, rewards and reinforcement managers provide to their employees after training are the single most important factor in whether employees apply it. It is important to note, however, that mid-level managers will not be successful in accomplishing this goal without first having support from the organization’s senior leadership.
3. Set an Enthusiastic Tone
Learning happens best when people are enthusiastic about what they learn. While some subjects are easier to create enthusiasm around than others, it is important for training professionals, senior leaders and mid-level managers to promote a sense of excitement about the training.
Because people naturally resist change, creating an environment of enthusiasm around your training initiative may prove to be more of a challenge than you expect. If faced with resistance, remember not to dictate or force the change. The more you force the training, the more resistance there will be. And you certainly won’t facilitate an atmosphere of enthusiasm through force.
The best way to create a sense of enthusiasm is first to acknowledge that there will be some resistance to the training initiative — and that resistance is normal. It’s then up to management and leadership to firmly guide adoption of the training program. Consensus must be enthusiastic and, more importantly, energetically maintained in order for it to be successful.
When it comes to the successful implementation of your training initiative, it’s always important to ensure you choose the training provider that is the best match for your organization and its needs. Involving senior leadership and management before, during and after the training initiative and creating an environment of enthusiasm around it will give your training implementation the extra boost it needs to be successful.