Training is the tip of the iceberg

Tip of the icebergI used to be a management trainer with a consultancy both in the United Arab Emirates and in the UK. Everything went really well and we conducted lots of training programmes for a wide range of companies in everything from customer service to quality programmes. Then one day our best client came along and said “We love your training, everyone comes out full of enthusiasm and ready for action – BUT, after a while they seem to go back to doing things the old way and end up on the same programme again next year. How can we change this?”

We’d noticed this and also had some challenges with people who had been sent on a training programme – but didn’t know why. As external trainers it was a tough one as we couldn’t demand that delegates attended training with a list of achievement outcomes – or could we?

There were six of us in the consulting and training team so we put our heads together and agreed that what happens in the training room is just the tip of the iceberg. The success of a training programme depends on so much else, so we came up with a structure to sit around the actual training programme. This consisted of:

– A pre-training discussion between the delegate and their boss to establish why they were going on the training course and what they needed to come back with in the way of skills, knowledge, etc.
– An objectives session at the beginning of the actual training session.
– An action planning session at the end of the training programme.
– A debrief between the delegate and their boss as soon as possible after the training programme had been completed to establish what they aimed to achieve and what support they needed
– Ongoing support chats between the boss and the delegate at a level that provided encouragement without the delegate feeling that they were being ‘checked up on’.
– Discussion of any areas where things weren’t going so well to ensure that the delegate didn’t just give up
– Praise and, if possible, reward for success – followed by revisiting the training notes to see if there were other things that could be put into action.

Some clients chose to engage our consultants to carry out a follow up session after about a month to see how things were going and what needed attention, but overall the system worked really well for those clients who chose to put it into place.

Some clients also sent ‘bosses’ along to the training to ensure everyone was getting the same message and demonstrate ownership and buy-in.

So what is the all about? Quite simply change doesn’t work in isolation – regardless of what the change happens to be, whether that’s training or a new strategy or a new IT system. After all, most of what we do becomes a habit – changing a habit takes time and needs quite high levels of motivation to stick at it. Change needs to have much more support to really work.

Written by Lesley Morrissey

Lesley Morrissey

I’ve written since I was at Primary School and achieved ‘fame’ by having a poem read on the BBC Schools programme at the age of 9! Since then I’ve written features for newspapers and magazines and, this century, commercial copy for businesses big and small.

The aim is to persuade my client’s target audience to take action so copy needs not only to be in their ‘voice’, but also to be written for the reader full of juicy benefits.

In other lives I’ve been a training manager, an HR manager, a quality director and a speaker.

About the author

Lesley Morrissey I've written since I was at Primary School and achieved 'fame' by having a poem read on the BBC Schools programme at the age of 9! Since then I've written features for newspapers and magazines and, this century, commercial copy for businesses big and small. The aim is to persuade my client's target audience to take action so copy needs not only to be in their 'voice', but also to be written for the reader full of juicy benefits. In other lives I've been a training manager, an HR manager, a quality director and a speaker.

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