If Good Training Matters, It Needs to Stick

Posted by Mary Hiers, Guest Contributor on 2/1/16 1:30 PM


assesment_quote_.jpgTraining represents a major investment at most companies, and in some industries, like in pharma sales training, the investment is even greater due to the highly specialized nature of what learners must take in, and the strict regulatory environment. It only makes sense that businesses want to be able to identify a positive return on that major investment.

As important as preparation for training and the training itself are, what happens after training is equally as important. If training doesn't "stick" to where it actually improves people's performance on the job, then what good does it do? Learners may not feel confident after a training program, or they may return to a work environment that doesn't have much respect for training programs. There may indeed be occasional situations where learners aren't allowed to use what they learned in training.

If any of these things happen, excellent training can fail, and return on investment may be minimal to nonexistent. Here's why good training is training that "sticks," and how you can make sure that it does.

Helping Learners See Their Progress During and After Training

It feels terrific to get better at something. It also feels great to monitor progress over time. One of the reasons why gamification in training has become so popular is because it frequently rewards improvement, and game stats allow players to see just how far they have come. Rewards and recognition throughout learning, linked to interim milestones, give learners the satisfaction that comes from making progress toward a goal.

There are any number of ways to help learners see their progress after a training program has been completed. Many organizations use post-tests, for example. Others use military-style debriefing, where progress can be reviewed in detail, and feedback can go both ways. Ideally, sales managers and trainers should work together so that once learners are back in the field, they have specific opportunities to recognize when their training can be put to use, and to evaluate how those skills play out in real world situations.

Connect Training to Relatable Pharma Sales Training Outcomes

If your learners have a difficult time making the connection between what they're being taught during training and their day-to-day responsibilities, you'll have a harder time realizing a return on your training investment. From pre-planning stages through post-training debriefs and refresher materials, making these connections explicit can help. It stands to reason that when your team members see for themselves how a training program contributes to their success, they become more motivated to learn.

Trainers and sales managers have to act as partners to trainees in learning what goals are important to them and how training addresses that. Helping employees get to where they want to go performance-wise often also involves a certain amount of coaching. Coaching is what turns newly acquired skills into reliable tools that the trainee knows how and when to use. It's also highly individualized. One learner may have difficulty with a new app interface, while another tends to be nervous when discussing a new product or dealing with a new client. Discussion, role-play, and encouragement all play important roles in the coaching process after training.

10 Things to Look for In  Training Vendor

Actions to Take After Training and Why They Work

A 2012 meta-analysis of pre-, during- and post-training activities and their effectiveness by a team of researchers in Florida, New York, and Colorado actually spelled out actions that trainers and sales managers can take after training to help ensure that training sticks and actually gets results on the job. Some of these actions, and how they affect outcomes include:

  • Ensuring supervisors are willing and able to reinforce new skills and promote ongoing learning
  • Discussing with trainees how on-the-job experiences are related to their training
  • Providing access to knowledge repositories, discussion groups, or coaching to reinforce what was learned
  • Determining whether actions taken after training directly link back to the purpose of the training

Incorporating specific post-training actions into the overall training strategy helps reduce skills decay, bolsters employee motivation and confidence, and helps reinforce new skills. Doing so also improves performance on the part of trainees, and sets the stage for evaluating and improving training programs for next time. You can see a more detailed chart of these steps, actions, and outcomes here.

It's About Return on Your Training Investment

You wouldn't direct your retirement funds into a stock or mutual fund without carefully considering past performance and monitoring performance over time so changes can be made. Likewise, you shouldn't invest in training for your team without considering past performance, monitoring whether the training was effective, and seeing for yourself whether the training led to identifiable improvements in performance.

If you don't consistently try to obtain the best outcomes from training in terms of how well your team members are able to perform, then why bother? Taking extra steps after training to ensure that new concepts and skills don't deteriorate, and measuring whether performance improves after training are just as fundamental as keeping track of your monetary investments and how well they perform. Training can have a tremendous positive return on investment, but you can't just assume you're getting that ROI without taking specific steps to ensure it happens and measure it.

There needs to be a definable benefit to learning new skills, and that benefit may be more subjective (higher confidence in the field) or objective (higher sales this quarter). How training is handled in the planning and execution stages is important, of course, but so is post-training. In fact, the post-training environment can make all the difference between skills that stick and are put to good use and skills that rapidly decay once learners are out of the classroom. If you're interested in learning more about measuring your return on your training investment, or any other aspect of sales training, we invite you to contact us at any time. We would be more than happy to answer your questions.

Topics: Training Solutions