Why Learning Initiatives Fail

Organizations sometimes seem to have a love-hate relationship with talent development. On one hand, they realize the critical importance of coaching and training to educate, enlighten and engage their workforce. On the other hand, when the rolling waves of revenue get turbulent, coaching and training are often the first budget items on the chopping block.

Sometimes, in an effort to stretch human-resource dollars, organizations will choose one development strategy over another, and often settle on one or two group workshops a year and hope for the best.

The simple truth is that without effective coaching reinforcement, training initiatives are deeply hindered. According to findings from Ventana Research, ROI on training quadruples from 22% to 88 % when reinforced by in-field coaching and reinforcement.

The Centre for Management and Organizational Effectiveness arrived at almost identical results. In their research, they found that productivity increases 23% from training alone. However, a combination of training and coaching reinforcement led to an 88% increase in productivity.

Once a core learning solution has completed and employees return to their roles, specific performance support activities must be implemented, or any knowledge or skill acquired is in severe jeopardy of not transferring to the workplace. In fact, Sales Performance International suggests that participants in sales training forget half of what is taught within five weeks.

Don’t squander your talent development budget. Here are some of the most powerful methods of coaching reinforcement following the completion of a core learning solution:

Individual Coaching: Scheduling post-course coaching sessions for a determined period of time, which include agreed-upon success measures, is one of the most effective (and sometimes most costly) ways to reinforce learning. Through dedicated coaching sessions, learners focus on their new knowledge or skills, determine specific action plans in which to apply the new knowledge or skills, set success measures upon which they will evaluate the effectiveness of their action plans, and reflect on what worked and what could improve following their strategy implementations. A different approach is Curbside Coaching, the act of coaching “in the moment”, which typically accompanies a live observation and involves immediate, event-specific feedback.

Follow-up Workgroup: Gathering a follow-up workgroup which includes all the learners from a specific learning initiative is a great way to get the most bang for your reinforcement buck. Like individual coaching, sessions are scheduled in advance for a set period of time, involving agreed-upon success measures and incorporating action plans and individual accountability. These group sessions have the added bonuses of the group’s experiences, successes and failures to share with its members regarding the knowledge or skills addressed in the initial core learning solution. These group coaching sessions can be held in-person, over the phone, or on the internet.

Assignments: This post-course support activity gives learners an opportunity to apply their new knowledge or skills in controlled, observable ways. Some assignments, for technical skills, can be straight-forward tests to illustrate knowledge. Soft-skill assignments often encourage real-life interactions and discussions about experiences. Regardless of the approach, assignments need to focus on reinforcement and development, not just cold, academic data collection. Use assignments as a starting place for discussion, not a summary of employee effectiveness.

Blended Approach: Using a thoughtful blend of the strategies outlined above is a common strategy among effective organizations. Since not every company is the same, it is important to evaluate the best method, success measures, and timeframe in which to execute the best reinforcement campaign. Xponents offers a robust reinforcement package called Skill Reinforcement Pods which blend group coaching, communities of practice, assignments and interactive group dialogues in a secured, online environment.

Organizational Performance

Organizational performance is closely linked to employee engagement. Research indicates that the level of connection and trust that exists between an employee and their manager plays a significant role on workplace satisfaction and engagement. Relationships that operate with transparency, respect, open-mindedness, and with clarity about goals and roles tend to be more successful. Trust is built by making and keeping commitments.

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