Making it Stick – Before

Which of these learning and development roles applies to you?

  1. You’re getting ready to teach a class for the first time…..or the 100th time.

  2. You’re developing material for an online or face-to-face class,

  3. You’re developing or modifying the company training calendar.

  4. You’re working with senior management to address skills gaps and key learning goals and needs.

  5. You’re identifying external training opportunities for individual employees’ needs.

In each of these roles, it’s important for you to not only think about the learning event itself – face-to-face, e-learning, virtual live, or blended. It’s also important for you to plan what happens before and after the learning event(s). Broad and Newstrom’s research revealed that the time periods before and after the learning event are as important or in some instances, more important than the learning event itself. My white paper on time periods explains more about time periods as well as critical roles for making learning stick. Jack Zenger and Joe Folkman estimate that 50% of performance improvement comes from activities outside the training event itself.

Here are a few suggestions for what various trainer roles can do before the training, to help make it stick:

  1. Design the training/instructor manual to include a pre-training email to both the participant and their manager. Write it out verbatim to assure consistency.

  2. Record an audio introduction to the course and the instructor – and/or send an email with this information. Ask participants to think about a situation or challenge they have had that ties in with the training topic or the need for this training. Include this pre-training communication with the registration confirmation sent by your LMS.

  3. Clarify and confirm specific skills that participants need to be able to know or do as a result of the training. Confirm the “business case” for this training topic with senior management. Specify what they need to do to support the training.

  4. Send participants and their managers a list of the objectives for the training. Simplify the objectives for easy understanding by non-trainers. Ask them to add their own objectives and/or rank order the objectives in order of importance, and to send them to the instructor prior to training or bring them to the training.

  5. Record a brief webinar or e-learning – no more than 5-10 minutes – that covers the key points of the training. Ask or require managers and senior leaders to participate in this “executive summary” the first time one of their employees participates.

  6. Create a blog or chat feature in a protected area of your training website. Ask (require) participants to visit the site at least X times (no fewer than twice) over the next X days (at least 3 days) before the training will begin. Post several questions about the training topic which will gauge prior learning and/or application need. Or, schedule a phone conference to address these questions.

  7. In your pre-training communication, express confidence that participants will learn the skill and be able to use it/them in their jobs. Use the “feel-felt-found” technique: Example: “You may feel overwhelmed at all the material we will cover in these 3 days. Others have felt this way before they started the class. But they found that when they did the practice exercises and took notes in their manuals, they were able to pass the certification test and start programming right away.”

Do you already use one or two of these suggestions, or a variation of them? Great! But don’t stop there. Recent research on training transfer emphasizes the importance of using multiple strategies and techniques. Different strategies will resonant and connect with different trainees and their managers. There can also be a building effect and synergy so that the results from using multiple strategies will be better than using any single strategy.

Until next time….

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