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<i>Dear Workforce</i> We Have Solid Leadership Programs. How Do We Reinforce It Post-Training

September 30, 2008
Dear Learning to Lead:

The questions you ask are excellent ones, in regard to seeing a return on your training investments as well as a desire to see positive behavior change.
First, when offering any kind of training, you should choose it based on the competencies you want your learners to develop. Your training leaders should be an integral part of any kickoff or rollout of training. They set the stage and context for the training, allowing people to understand its value to the organization's before they even begin training.
Training leaders also are vital in the transference after the training. It is therefore equally important to educate them about the content and also provide them with tools to support application. They will be called upon to reinforce and model the behaviors that the learners experienced in training.
For your learning population, there are many follow-up or interim activities you can create that offer refresher training, practice labs and "lunch and learn" sessions. What is most important is to have the learners involved in crafting these interim activities. They will embrace and will be more likely to complete the activities if they had a hand in their design.
Finally, when possible, the performance management system should be used by your future leaders to craft one or more objectives that are tied to applying the learning over time, reviewed at regular intervals. We all know the saying: "If it doesn't get measured, it doesn't get done."
To the final part of your question: Yes, it is possible to measure employee behavior. The questions asked of the participants and those around them (peers, direct reports and managers) should reflect behavior seen/experienced before the training as well as after. It is advisable to allow at least three months after the training to capture behavior change. The 360-degree evaluation tool is very common in the industry, and it too rates behavior.
Know that there are many avenues you can take, but one thing is very important: Training alone will not provide you with solid behavior change with the majority of the learners. Instead, a robust program focusing on solid implementation before, during and after the actual training—including a variety of audiences—should be the goal.
SOURCE: Annamarie Lang, consultant, leadership solutions group, Development Dimensions International Inc., Pittsburgh.
LEARN MORE: A "catastrophic shortage" of qualified leaders plagues many of the world's largest global organizations. Also, more tips from DDI on how to reinforce leadership development.
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