Many years ago, Allison Rossett wrote this saying on a flipchart: “No Naked Training.” It’s the phrase I remember most from a day she spent with the Training Design & Technology folks in SunU. (Those were some pretty good days.)
Obviously, this has nothing to do with wearing clothes. Learners and facilitators may (please) stay dressed the whole time.
Instead, it’s about making sure we don’t just launch a training program into an organization without any support. Don’t do any of these things (if you can help it):
- Don’t offer training without explanation—to learners, to managers, to people who will be impacted by changes.
Way too often, learners have no idea why they are attending a particular course, managers didn’t expect the new behaviors their people came back with, or co-workers are puzzled (amused, scornful, resentful…) because someone is doing things differently after training.
- Don’t forget about culture, politics.
Will the new behaviors be supported? If not, what should you do about it?
- Don’t ignore existing incentives, which may work at cross-purposes with what you’re trying to achieve.
Should any goals or rewards be adjusted?
- Don’t expect managers to be aware of what’s in the training, what their people will be learning, or what they’ll be doing differently as a result of it.
Should they take it, too? Help to teach it? Get a summary ahead of time? Hear about it from their manager?
- Don’t keep managers in the dark about how they can support learning—before, during, and after the training.
The most important factor in whether learning transfers or not is the learners’ perception about whether their managers want to see them using their new skills.
- Don’t forget to make it clear what’s expected of learners after training.
People sometimes miss that they are now expected to do X or Y, unless you tell them. (Another reason to coordinate with managers first.)
- Don’t offer training too long before the learners can use their new knowledge & skills.
I’ve seen people attend training on new software that wouldn’t be available for 3 months. Retention? Not so much.
- Don’t forget to provide support for learners to use back on the job, for example: job aids, performance support, manuals.
Just because you told them or showed them how, and even if they practiced, they’ll be new at this, so make sure they have something to refer to.
- Don’t forget to offer follow-up after the training to reinforce skills, answer questions, correct misunderstandings, or add updates.
In fact, schedule the follow-up ahead of time. Maybe it’s a brown bag session, or a visit to a staff meeting to answer questions. Make it part of the project from the planning stages so it will be on everyone’s calendar.
A training program without additional support, well, it’s just “naked.” That can be a recipe for failure (where people don’t use their new skills).
What strategies will you use to “wrap around” your training? Start in the planning stage to figure out how to involve managers, clarify expectations, and include follow-up. That way, your training has a much better chance of having the desired impact.