I often ask my workshop participants, “What three groups of people must work together for training to be successful?” They always know the answer – managers, trainers, and employees. In this blog I will talk about how managers can either help training succeed or lead to its downfall. In future blogs I will look at how trainers and employees can contribute to training success in your organization.
Let’s look at what managers might do to inhibit training’s success. Often managers will send their employees to training to “fix” performance problems that are best addressed by non-training solutions. Managers and companies who do this waste billions of dollars on unnecessary training. Many managers send their employees to training as a perk, whether they need the training or not. If training is not really needed, employees begin to see training as a vacation and not something to take seriously when they get there. Some managers will send groups of individuals to training when only one of their staff members is under-performing. It is kind of like giving everyone antibiotics if one person in the department is sick!
Managers who do these things put training in a bad light. What should they be doing to ensure training success? Donald Kirkpatrick, in his book entitled, Evaluating Training Programs, gives us five different work climates that can either hinder or help training success:
1. Preventing – Managers prevent employees from doing what they learned in training.
2. Discouraging – Managers do not model the new desired behavior so the employees do not change their own behavior.
3. Neutral – Managers conduct business as usual but do not object if changes are made. However, if negative results occur, the boss may create a discouraging environment.
4. Encouraging – Managers encourage their employees to apply what they’ve learned in training and help them in any way they can.
5. Requiring – Managers know what their employees have been taught and require change.
If you believe that your work environment is like the first three climates in Kirkpatrick’s list then training programs will most likely fail in the long run. So, it is in everyone’s best interest to work together for climates four and five.
What climate do you think you currently work in?
In addition to the proper climate, training will be successful when you secure buy-in and support for training and performance from your entire organization. You need to create a training partnership between learners, trainers, and supervisors. Check out our workshop, Make Your Training Stick, which gives you a set of comprehensive tools and techniques to ensure this partnership takes place.