Albert Einstein is famously credited with saying that “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.”  When it comes to training initiatives, are we all acting insane?

According to Neil Rackham (of SPIN fame), without practice, review and reinforcement, 87 percent of skills taught during training will be lost within 30 days. If training initiatives aren’t linked to an associate’s development plan; if managers haven’t been trained on the skill and on the associate’s appropriate post-training practice, review and coaching; if the skill hasn’t been marketed as important to the associate’s job performance, development  and advancement… then when it comes to training, it would appear that we are all acting insane.
How to regain our sanity

It’s been our experience that when a training activity is completed, it’s important to recognize that the training initiative is not. Training we see as happening in 3 stages. The first is the marketing of the training before the activity begins. The second is the training activity itself. The third is where the learner has an opportunity to practice and hone their skills under the watchful eye of a manager, trainer or buddies/peers that have already mastered the skill.

At the conclusion of a training initiative, training retention rates can be raised significantly when learners identify the things they want to work on over the next 30 days. Action plans need to be specific and shared with a manager, who can then give the learner an opportunity to practice the skills and provide constructive review and coaching. For example:

  • What are the things that you most want to work/improve as a result of this Workshop? Why?
  • What are the three specific actions you will take as a result of the training? For example, “I will <specific action> by <specific date>because <reason why I will do this/the benefit>.

Best practice for us is that after 30 days, the associate and their manager review the results of the practice and coaching effort. The review session ideally begins with “as a result of taking the actions indicated in the Action Plan, and after practicing the skills, I have achieved the following…”. How does this match to your experience. Are there other best practices that you have?