This edition of our magazine explores a variety of ways to handle one of the top challenges of a learning leader: sustaining the impact of the training investment that we make. Sustainability is top of mind for many training and development leaders, which is a good sign that the field understands that one-and-done training is quickly becoming unacceptable in an environment where investment dollars can be hard to come by.

Sustaining the impact of training to change behaviors and improve the performance of our employees can take many forms. Ultimately, it comes down to identifying the key behaviors that we are trying to change, and then using the many available tools to help reinforce what has been learned. The core of a successful training reinforcement plan starts with understanding the frequency with which the new skill or behavior is used in the job setting. This frequency helps us form the reinforcement strategy.

The most successful reinforcement strategies embed post-course activities into the job, which helps to reawaken the concepts covered in the initial training. These activities can take many forms, such as a practice exercise, reading notes, talking to a mentor or coach, doing a simulation or playing a serious game. The efficacy of different forms of reinforcement can be debated, but really any form of focused revisiting of the content will help bring back the experiences from the initial learning.

Another element of a best-in-class reinforcement strategy involves varying the post-training activities and spreading them out over significant time periods. Some training organizations have exercises that take place up to six to eight months after the initial training.

As leaders in the training and development world, our challenge is to ensure buy-in for the complete learning experience: the pre-training, training and post-training reinforcement activities. Talking to key stakeholders about the learning experience and securing their buy-in demonstrates our commitment to delivering real impact, rather than merely checking another to-do off our always lengthy to-do lists.

As always, we would love to hear your thoughts about the point of views shared in the magazine and any topics you would like us to tackle in future editions. I hope to see you at TICE this year at the end of June in Raleigh, NC.