Helping People apply what they Learn

I saw a cartoon the other day in which one person said to the other: ” I taught my dog, how to whistle”. The other person then said: ” But I don’t’hear him !, to which the reply was : ” I said I taught him, I didn’t say he learnt it”.

This raised a thought in me : ” Why conduct training unless it changes behavior on the job or causes productivity to increase?” Training has to be an investment and the payback must be increased performance. Yet there are so many factors that can hamper application of new concepts learnt in the workplace. These can include personal factors such as lack of motivation, the ability to learn, including whether the learner sees the information as relevant, instructional factors such as ineffective instruction not matching learning styles, too much theory, to organisational factors such as the lack of a learning culture in a company,
and lack of coaching and other support behaviours.

What can we do about these factors( AND, yes it is a communicator’s responsibilty):

We can often do little about personal factors(these are often internal),but with guided coaching and counselling, and appropriate instruction wonders can be achieved – Remember Dead Poets Society, etc.

Ensuring that trainers are up to date in the most effective accelerated learning techniques can play a part  BUT ultimately for learning and ultimately performance to take place, a system that recognises learning and reinforces correct behaviours will be necessary if ROI is to be achieved. But how do we do that?

The following ideas may help.

1. Train managers in Coaching skills. Numerous studies have shown the value of coaching in the workplace.Reward successful coaches.
2. Get each person to complete an action plan of what steps he or she will take to implement the information in the workplace. Then measure and follow
3. Develop checklists, planning sheets, flow charts, and other job aids to help them apply.
4. Catch people doing things right. Feedback skills serve as wonderful reinforcement tools.
5. Think of training as a ” Waterfalls flow from the top” approach. By planning and acting on your own development in ways that are visible and instructive to your employees, you will be sending out an impactful message. Your employees will follow the lead in your example. It’s a chain reaction that begins with YOU.
6. Use all the wonderful communication tools, such as inhouse newsletters, e-mail, the intranet, social media tools and frequent communiques to stimulate learning.