When it comes to learning new skills we need to make it easy for our people to embed them into the workplace. While people are not robots and cannot be automated, having a strategy and a process for the change to become a natural rhythm is not only possible, it's essential.
Learning does not just take place in a classroom, at a workshop or an online program. What we do before, during and after the training should be strategic and intentional. It's not a set-and-forget activity.
In 'Why (Most) Training is Useless', management author and expert David Maister says, "Training is a wonderful last step in bringing about changed organisational and personal behavior, but a pathetically useless first step."
Companies that regularly send their people to training, often don't have an environment that helps embed the learning from those training sessions, so momentum at work is lost, which makes the training kind of pointless.
If we ran great training programs in isolation of anything else it would be like turning up to your own wedding thinking you've got all the solutions for a successful marriage. That the hard work was organising the wedding and now you can sit back, eat cake and live happily ever after. We all know that never works.
If we want new skills to become natural then we need to set up ‘remembering rhythms’ for them to become easier. Remembering rhythms facilitate the new things we have learnt into our everyday.
When designing feedback cultures there are many initiatives and ideas that can be implemented so what they have learnt in a workshop can become part of their everyday habits. So that it is easy to remember and simple to implement. Many of these apply to any change initiative.
- Recruit and train mentors or champions
Feedback Mentors are sourced and trained as soon as the business makes the decision. Invite them, recruit them and train them - fast and well. This group is highly motivated and highly capable and they can be like your grassfires to success. Their energy and skill will rip through the business faster than anything else.
- Create mantras or memes
When something is said or seen over time, a long-term memory is created, eventually allowing it to perform without conscious effort. This process decreases the need for full attention, which increases efficiency. This is a great way to embed what people have learnt.
Take it a step further and create infographics and pictures of the mantras, learnings, and targets. Make it cool, fun, eye catching. Do it around the office, on computers, on t-shirts, caps, hoodies, mugs...
- Equip your leaders with tools
We want to make it easy for our leaders to help their teams become the change. Let them get on with being operational experts and show them how to do the embedding. Don't assume they just know. Make it easy for them and they will be more motivated and capable to drive it.
Provide them with a toolkit so they don't have to think about how to go about the change. The kit could include; suggestions for team meeting discussions; guidelines on running catch ups so they model the new skills; draft emails for them that they can edit and send, especially the very senior ones and share ideas and initiatives to create habits.
- Set up coaching clinics
There is so much to digest in a workshop that the follow up is often when the penny drops for most people. Post-training coaching clinics help accelerate productivity and then increase early adoption.
A coaching clinic should comprise fewer people than at the actual training workshop. As far as return on investment goes, they are a no brainer! You've already spent time and money on the training, so why wouldn't you make sure the learning lands and becomes habitual? Aside from your trainers, some of your Feedback Mentors may be capable of facilitating these.
- Blend in to your everyday
Look at the current systems and processes that happen within the business and teams and ensure the new habits and behaviours are a part of them. If it's feedback then include in team meetings, start and end of project reviews, client debriefs, catch ups and reviews, etc.
If you want to make change stick then set up rhythms so what they have learnt becomes easy to remember and simple to embed.