How follow-up beyond the training drives long-term impacts

Benjamin Franklin nailed it.

One of my favorite quotes about the impact of training comes from Benjamin Franklin: “Tell me and I forget.  Teach me and I remember.  Involve me and I learn.”

Many of us in management positions convince ourselves that telling someone how to do something will magically create a willingness and ability in them to master a skill and use it every day to impact our organization, yet when we look at it through our own experience as learners, we can hear that small whisper of doubt in that statement, and deep down we get that in order to translate learning into action, simply telling…and even classroom teaching alone…doesn’t give us the return on investment for the time and money spent during that one “telling” or “teaching” event.  Real action requires follow up after the event to truly apply that skill.  If you have ever had children or can harken back to your own childhood, you understand this.

We all see that kids need follow up after teaching them a skill in order get results. When we tell a child how to tie their shoes, we don’t expect them to do it well after just one explanation.  We don’t even expect, after spending an hour teaching 10 kids in a classroom how to tie their shoes, that they will be able to do it well right away.  What do we do instead? We practice WITH them every day, PRAISE and REDIRECT them along the way, and soon we no longer have to bend down every few hours to retie their trampled on, dirt-crusted shoelaces…saving us much-needed time and shoelace money!

When it comes to learning new skills in a coaching session or a training class, we, and our employees, are all kids with untied, trampled on shoelaces sucking up time and money!  That’s not to say that coaching and training classes aren’t worth the investment; it simply means that they aren’t, on their own, the magic shoelace-tying answer.  Consistent, planned follow up after training is the final answer.

So how we do we do that?  A post-class process for reinforcement is the key:

On our own, or with the help of the training professional, we can commit to meeting with the employee within 3 days of the training event to discuss the following questions:

  • What are the top 3 skills you learned and can use right away?
  • Why do you feel those 3 are the most impactful for your situation?
  • What struggles do you anticipate as you begin to apply those skills?
  • What can I do to help you practice those skills?
  • How would you feel about meeting every Friday morning for 10 minutes to plan how to use those skills during the next week and review how things went the previous week?

During those Friday meetings, we can ask the same 5 questions each time:

  • What did you do around that skill this week?
  • What successes did you have with it?
  • What didn’t go so well?
  • What did you learn – good or bad?
  • What’s our plan for next week?

Those 5 simple questions allow us to praise and redirect while truly involving ourselves and our employee is the process of learning.  Benjamin Franklin was spot on when he said involving is the key to learning and application, whether you’re a kid attempting to lace shoes or a business leader working to enhance your skills to help your organization succeed!