The missing link between training programs and performance change


I recently conducted a training session for the Association for Talent Development.  I discussed the missing link and followed up that training session with the article below.   

Training is supposed to change performance by changing behaviors.  So often this is just not the case. In this program, we discussed the missing link between training programs and achieving the performance change our training is designed to enhance.

The three key areas we focused on during this session:

  • Learn the Cycle of Performance Change
  • Discuss how to get better performance through changed behaviors.
  • Identified three ways to get participants engaged in training.

Cycle of Performance Change: 

Most training programs fail to actually state what the real objective of the training is.  In developing a training program, it is critical to actually state the key objectives of what it is the participant (learner), will actually learn and should be able to do at the end of the training.  This allows the participant to know what they are getting, and what they should expect.  By doing this it also allows for the participant to state what their objectives of attending the training are as well.  None of this happens in silence.  All of this should be discussed in advance of the training and throughout the training.

Once we have identified the goals and objectives, we can now move to what we call attitude.  With attitude, it is pretty simple.  Does the participant see the need to make a change?  If yes.  Move forward.  If no.  Then find out why.

If they see the need.  We now have to determine; do they Want to?  If yes. Move forward.  If no.  We need to find out why.  Then we have to assess skills and determine if they can make the necessary change. And secondly, does the participant believe they can make the necessary change.

Lastly, we have to assess whether or not the participant will make the changes.  This is not only for trainers to determine, but the participant must determine this for themselves as well.

Attitude comes down to this:  Do they see a need, Do we see a need?  Do they want to, Do we want them to?  Do they think they can? Do we think they can?  Lastly, Will they do it, Will we follow up to make sure they do it.

After we have determined our goals, assessed the participants attitudes toward training and changing their performance.  We can now impart new knowledge to the participants.  This new knowledge is techniques, information, processes, etc. that can enhance their skills when used.

There is no point to provide training to someone who doesn’t have the right attitude to take the training and actually use it to get better results.

Now that we have equipped them with the new information, we now have to get them practicing the new concepts, processes, and techniques.  Once they start practicing the new techniques they can then start to become more comfortable with it.  When practiced enough, they will turn those new skills into a permanent way in which they conduct business.

So, the new skill becomes a changed behavior in how they conduct business.

Three ways we can get participants engaged in the training. 

Before, During, and after.  These are the three areas most critical to success for a training program.  Training is not something you just go to.  Training is an ongoing requirement for everyone, especially for those who are seeking to get better results.

Before the training:  We sit down with participants and get their buy-in on the training and why they think it is important for them to attend the training. As pointed out above, we also let them know what the objectives of the training are and we get their objectives for the training as well.

During:  There are many ways we can get participants engaged in the training while we are actually delivering the training.  Here are just a few.

We facilitate versus lecture.  I think everyone knows this.  However, it is still happening.  Adult learners learn best by doing. The best way for us to teach is to get them practicing sooner than later.  The process I use, is simple.

  • Introduce the concept
  • Give an example of the concept being used.
  • Have the participant practice the concept using their examples.
  • Give some coaching to the participant while they are practicing.
  • Summarize how it worked and when and how they will apply it.

Another way to facilitate is by having the participants works in pairs, triads, groups, and then the entire group as a whole.  In each of the different pairings they have the ability to learn from each other.  As a pair, they may be more willing to be honest.  In triad, they have an extra person holding them accountable and giving them feedback.  In groups, they get the benefit of seeing what others learned by applying the concept.  Mixing these pairings and groupings up create a more engaged participant.

After the training.  This is one of the most critical pieces of an effective training program that is often overlooked.  After the training, you can do some assessments to determine what was remembered.  You can also assess the program to see if the expectations were clear.  But what is most important, is following up with the participants to ensure they are using the new concepts discussed. It is hard to change a behavior.

If you have a veteran employee, this step is even more crucial, as it will be easy for them to fall back in to the old ways of doing things.  While a newer employee, might be more open to the changes if they haven’t had anything specific they were using.

When we use the Cycle of Performance Change correctly we can change the behaviors of people, which in turn makes our training programs more effective.   Getting participants involved in the training from the very start, through the end, gets their buy-in to the training and creates an atmosphere of wanting to learn versus having to learn. It is also makes the training experience more enjoyable when they get to practice the newly learned concepts.

There is no perfect way to ensure all training leads to an actual changed performance.  The key is to be creative, keep it simple, use lots of examples, and lastly, get them involved in the training and practicing the material.







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