Most instructional design models (and several posts on this blog) state the need for on-the-job reinforcement of newly learned skills from training.
Examples of reinforcement include (but are certainly not limited to):
- Partnering with managers to set goals and coach
- Holding people accountable for stated expectations for using new skills
- Celebrating and recognizing successes
- Sharing success stories
- Incorporating key skills into monitoring processes and performance measures
Let’s use this post to take a closer look at making the first one – partnering with managers – work.
Why doesn’t it happen?
If the purpose of an eLearning course was to meet a specific business need – something that would increase revenue, save money, or protect the organization from risk – it makes sense that a learner’s manager would be accountable for goal-setting and coaching for new skills after training is complete.
After all, wouldn’t the organization ultimately hold that manager accountable for ensuring that the new behaviors that increase revenue, save money, or reduce risk actually occur?
The logic makes sense, but it doesn’t always work that way.
One reason for the disconnect may be that the manager doesn’t buy into the purpose of the training; and therefore, chooses not to reinforce it. Organizations should address challenges like this as part of a larger change management effort.
In my own experience, the more common issue is a lack of time or know-how. Managers at all levels are incredibly busy. If they perceive goal-setting and coaching as time-consuming, it may be harder for them to make time for it.
And if they’re not sure quite how to approach it, that means that they have to set aside even more time just to figure that out. If competing priorities appear more straight-forward, reinforcing training may continuously loose footing on the “to do” list.
While we probably aren’t in a position to take responsibilities off of a manager’s plate, we can attempt to make training reinforcement as easy as possible.
So how do we make it easy for them?
Just as you design expectations and coaching into an eLearning course, create something similar for a manager to facilitate.
A meeting-in-a-box to reinforce training might include:
- Talking points for the manager to start a conversation with the employee
- Instructions for setting training-related goals, including possible examples
- Suggestions for measuring, tracking, and discussing goal progress
- Suggested coaching approaches for common or anticipated challenges (perhaps as an appendix or supplemental material)
- Someone the manager can contact for questions and advice, if needed
By mapping this out, managers don’t have to set time aside to figure out how to best reinforce training or discuss it productively with employees. They can simply spend a few minutes skimming instructions and then dive in.
Don’t get me wrong...I’m not blindly optimistic. I realize that this won’t effectively cure all situations. But aren’t you much more likely to tackle something extra that seems straight-forward and easy? I know I am...especially if I perceive it to be something extra I’m tasked with beyond my usual responsibilities.
Have you tried something like this?
If so, please share your experience in the Comments. Or, if you have other ideas, please share those as well!