Maximizing Your Training Dollar$: Preparing the Learner

by Joan Hebert, Hebert Performance Training

Training employees is not only a necessity for organizational growth, but it is also a major investment. What is the average cost for one employee to attend training, including their pay, benefits, loss of time from their job, trainer costs, student materials, and travel and expenses? If you think that is staggering, calculate the cost to have a manager attend training.

Realizing these costs, why is it that some organizations do not prepare trainees to get the maximum out of the training experience? Often times trainees do not know why they are attending training, or what they should get out of it. Another concern is not reinforcing and guiding the new behaviors once the training is completed. Employees participate in training sessions, yet supervisors often fail to give them the proper tools and feedback to enable them to use the new behaviors on the job.

Have your trainers heard any of the following from trainees?
“I just heard about the class this morning.”
“I’m taking someone else’s place, what’s this about anyhow?”
“I’m only going to be here for half the class, will I miss anything?”

Well in advance of the training session trainees should receive: the name of the training program, a program summary, the training dates, times and location, as well as the trainers name. Trainees should have a discussion with their supervisor regarding what they are expected to learn, why they are going to training, and the performance benefits they will gain. Supervisors should also let trainees know that all supervisors will be attending a managerial session of the program to prepare them to support and coach them.

T.I.P.S. (Training Is Performance Savvy)

Training is a Partnership
Successful training consists of a partnership between the trainer and the supervisor. There are basically two parts:
1. the training portion in the classroom, and
2. what follows the training back on the job.

The first part gives trainees the opportunity to learn new material, behaviors, skills, and demonstrate their use. The second, and equally important, is coaching and feedback for reinforcement and further development. This portion helps transition the classroom work to the “real world.”

Coaching Skills May Be Lacking
* Studies show that 85% of what is learned in training is lost within 30 days of the training, unless it is reinforced. *

Employee performance is based on three facets of the Performance Triangle:
Do they know how to do it?
Can they do it?
Will they do it?

The trainer addresses “do they know how to do it?” in teaching them the subject matter, while using exercises, and other methods to answer “can they do it?” The all important “will they do it?” is dependent on the coaching and reinforcement they receive back on the job.

Although not always possible, trainers often observe trainees on the job and provide feedback following the formal training session. To maximize your training efforts, it is critical to have the supervisor continue this role of trainer and coach. Are your supervisors giving ongoing feedback, both constructive, and most importantly positive feedback? It is often said, “what is recognized and rewarded is repeated.”

Training Too Far In Advance
One way that training efforts are lost is training employees too far in advance of when they will be required to use the new skills and behaviors. Training people in January, when the new job responsibilities or computer system will not be in place until June, is probably wasted time since most of the training will not be retained. Studies show that the sooner you are able to use the new skills, the more likely they will be used correctly.

Lack of Supervisory Training
With this role for supervisors of trainer and coach, the assumption must be made that the supervisor has attended a managerial version of the employee program. I have personally witnessed this lack of training to be one of the biggest downfalls of training efforts. The employees know their supervisor has not had the training, therefore, the employees do not feel it is really that important to change their behavior. The problem is compounded when lack of training for supervisors is coupled with the lack of feedback and coaching for employees.

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