Training Reinforcement. Yet Again.

Training Reinforcement

Yes, the training reinforcement pun intended. If you work in Sales, either in management or the training side of it, you know training events are big and they’re a lot of work. Yet they are the only shot at having all the Sales Reps from the field join the HQ and brush up on some skills. And why would you want that?

Well, easy. It’s all about growing the business.

Except this means you need to keep a tight eye on the costs, too. If seeing an average of 5% improvement would not pay for the training, then don’t do it, says Ian Altman, a sales training facilitator and Forbes contributor. And under no circumstance should you invest more than 2% of your annual sales. So, for example, for a USD 1,000,000 business, it might not be wise to invest more than USD 20,000.

And still, in the US at least, you might go north of USD 100,000 for a 3-day training for 25 people. That is before you’ve even hired an experienced facilitator!

Can you avoid trainings? No. Can you make them less costly? Maybe. But you won’t get the same results. So what you should be thinking of doing, instead, is pairing up that training with a reinforcement program!

Reinforcement is a basic move when you deal with costly trainings and the ugly truths of brain science: people will forget. Without it, around 50% of the training skills are lost if they’re not transferred to the job immediately after. Within 6 months, 3 quarters of your training will have been completely lost to your participants. And after 1 year, some people will only retain about 10-15% tops of what they learned.

 

 

If it looks bad, don’t despair. That’s the reason why psychologists, training experts and facilitators all advise doing reinforcement. Here are some of the best practices you can use.

Enter Training Reinforcement

Start planning reinforcement BEFORE the training.

 

Send out a pre-evaluation briefing to all your Sales Reps letting them know why they are attending.  Also explain what is expected of them, based on their current roles. Give people a context and introduce the training objectives. Set up a call at least 2 weeks in advance, if needed, to go through any questions or clarifications.

And then do a systematic follow-up on knowledge and skills gained. This ranges from: asking for targeted feedback on each sessions as the day progresses; to a quiz testing knowledge, skill level and attitude some 3 days after the training; to a questionnaire with concrete examples and detailed answers on when and how they applied the new skills in their day-to-day jobs. (Check out more follow up & follow through tactics here.)

All of this covers your Levels 1 and 2 in David Kirkpatrick’s famous Model of Training Evaluation. David Kirkpatrick, Professor Emeritus at the University of Wisconsin and past president of the American Society for Training and Development (ASTD), first published his Four-Level Training Evaluation Model in 1959, in the US Training and Development Journal.

 

Training reinforcement should become a part of the learning culture of your organisation. That means getting everyone into a mindset where they’re open to learning and practicing. Reinforcement is there to help your Reps get the most of the training, not to weigh in on them like just another resource they’re expected to use.

It also means progress should be recorded and discussed as part of a coaching plan and then in weekly team or department meetings. How else will you show employees you care about their development? Use analytics and then get the people’s feedback on what those figures show. That way you ensure training reinforcement stays at the top of their minds, always. You send them the message that this matters to you, as much as it should to them.

 Develop a coaching plan, to adjust for differences in learning.

 

Given that not all your employees will do equally well, you need to make sure they have plenty of coaching around to help them get ahead. Incidentally, this is also a great way to get the line managers involved! Have the managers start coaching programs with the people in their department. Let them know they’re expected to report back on progress and results. And – crucially – ensure they understand that those results also belong to them!

Cultivating leadership in your employees, be they managers or executives, can never go wrong. Turn them into great ambassadors, but also into sources for transfer of training, wider, in the company. Not for nothing do they say that, to really know something, is to teach it.

Have line managers build closer working relationships with their team members and you will have gone a long way indeed! They are the best positioned to reward appropriate behaviour as it happens and correct when needed. Instruct them to transform these into teaching and coaching moments and you’re already halfway through the training reinforcement process.

In a recent survey done by Sales Performance International 46% rated “coaching by the sales manager” as one of the most effective ways for reinforcing new sales skills. Another important fact is that ROI on training quadruples from 22% to 88% when reinforced by in-field coaching and reinforcement, according to Ventana Research.

 Get the upper management’s buy-in.

 

Once you have reports and results from the coaching and feedback forms, you need to take action at upper management level. Sales Reps and line managers alike will see their efforts are being met halfway. Look at the analytics and adjust depending on the feedback you get.

Then take every chance to remind your people – via a newsletter, an intranet, or a learning management system tool – that you heard them out and value their input. This will boost your employee engagement and close the loop on your reinforcement program.

And since we’re at it, it’s crucially important to have the upper management lead by example. If you’re doubting whether employees are watching the upper management and partly patterning their behaviour on them – don’t. The type of organisational culture you have is shaped by the leadership in no small part.

Employees, either from the Sales department or any other part of the business, will know a faux pas when they see one. And if mistakes are ok, as long as we learn from them, scoring low on authenticity and credibility is not. There’s nothing like trying to build up the trust of your team, once it’s been lost.

Case Study: KPMG

KPMG’s “We Shape History” employee engagement campaign yielded some wonderful results, sending them to Fortune Magazine’s annual 100 Best Companies to Work For list.

 

 

“Less than six months into our Purpose initiative 85% of employees agreed that KPMG is a great place to work, up slightly from 82% a year earlier; after a year scores on this same question rose to 89%. Additionally, 60% said our purpose initiative strengthened their pride in KPMG and our work.”, they said.

However, in some departments there was a 6-11% downturn in key engagement indicators. Why? The employees in those departments didn’t see their line managers talk about purpose, which probably resulted in increased cynicism engendered by the perception of leadership hypocrisy”.

Go mobile, or go home.

 

In 2014, the training industry grew by 15%, the highest growth ever since the market started being studied, according to Josh Bersin, of Bersin by Deloitte. Why? Because businesses are increasingly starting to realise they need to reskill people. With the upsurge in the economy and the rapidly changing technology, people need to reskill themselves in order to adapt.

That is why the Learning Management System market in Europe in Asia is growing at a fast pace; the US being already at its 2nd or 3rd generation systems. Today, everybody wants an LMS that is at once an online course catalog, an expert management system and a knowledge sharing platform. And, most importantly, they want all of it integrated with mobile learning.

Come to think of it, it’s only natural too. Your Sales Reps are on the field most of the time and they need info that is relevant, offered at the exact moment of need and in bite-sized pieces that can be easily consumed. If they had a training more than 2 months ago and they want to go back to that one lesson or piece of knowledge, they need to be able to get to it, fast.

Mobile also guarantees that training learning will stay top of mind with your employees, no matter where they are. It’s a constant communication channel with management – for feedback and input from the field. It can give you accurate, real time analytics whenever there’s a problem. It increases engagement by providing timely and relevant updates and building on organisational culture with minimal effort.

Gamify with core training learnings.

 

Now that you have a whole ‘infrastructure’ in place, you need to ensure key learnings are periodically reinforced. The way to go is gamification. Instead of re-running one lesson from the training, design a fun quiz or game. Use extrinsic rewards, like points accumulated, extra days of leave or small bonuses. But don’t forget about the intrinsic motivators. Like Daniel Pink shows, they are the true drivers of employee engagement.

 

Instead of spreading these bits of learning via an array of means of communication used internally, go for the mobile LMS. People will be incentivized to use it, because it doesn’t tie them down to a desktop. They’ll also prefer it, as long as they can see progress being made real fast – think of leaderboards for the best performing employees. Share these with everyone periodically and you’ll tap into your salespeople’s self-esteem and competitive nature.

Don’t forget: your goal is to play around with key concepts of the training. So long as you have a fun game, quiz, poster etc., make sure you sequence the process. People learn better if they’re reminded by a key concept once and then get to play around with it. Divide the training into very short ‘lessons’ and deliver them one at a time.

That’s about it, on training reinforcement. Try these for yourself and let us know how it went!

We’re always happy to hear about new tips & tricks of the trade.

Choose your plan and start building your own platform! Try it 14 days for free.
No Credit Card Required.

Standard
199$
per month (billed annually)

14-day free trial

Includes:

Up to 10 team members
Unlimited courses
Custom design?
Managed LMS
Mobile-optimized site
Learner Certificates
Future updates & upgrades
Daily backups
Build your own domain?
Basic support?
STANDARD PLAN
Professional
499$
per month (billed annually)

14-day free trial

Includes:

All the features in
STANDARD
+
Up to 20 team members
Author Training
One language pack
Analytics & Reports
Learner Reports
Advanced Support?
.
PROFESSIONAL PLAN

Choose your plan and start building your own platform! Try it 14 days for free.

Standard
549$
per month (billed annually)

14-day free trial

Includes:

Up to 10 team members
Unlimited courses
Custom design?
Managed LMS
Mobile-optimized site
Learner Certificates
Future updates & upgrades
Daily backups
Build your own domain?
Basic support?
STANDARD PLAN
Professional
899$
per month (billed annually)

14-day free trial

Includes:

All the features in
STANDARD
+
Up to 20 team members
Author Training
One language pack
Analytics & Reports
Learner Reports
Advanced Support?
.
PROFESSIONAL PLAN
Premium
1849$
per month (billed annually)

14-day free trial

Includes:

All the features in
PROFESSIONAL
+
Up to 30 team members
Mobile Interface
Basic Instructional Designer
Additional onboarding & training
Two language packs
Single sign-on, LDAP
EU / US / Asia Hosting
PREMIUM PLAN

Choose your plan and start building your own platform! Try it 14 days for free.

Standard
949$
per month (billed annually)

14-day free trial

Includes:

Up to 10 team members
Unlimited courses
Custom design?
Managed LMS
Mobile-optimized site
Learner Certificates
Future updates & upgrades
Daily backups
Build your own domain?
Basic support?
STANDARD PLAN
Professional
1749$
per month (billed annually)

14-day free trial

Includes:

All the features in
STANDARD
+
Up to 20 team members
Author Training
One language pack
Analytics & Reports
Learner Reports
Advanced Support?
.
PROFESSIONAL PLAN
Premium
2549$
per month (billed annually)

14-day free trial

Includes:

All the features in
PROFESSIONAL
+
Up to 30 team members
Mobile Interface
Basic Instructional Designer
Additional onboarding & training
Two language packs
Single sign-on, LDAP
EU / US / Asia Hosting
PREMIUM PLAN

Choose your plan and start building your own platform! Try it 14 days for free.

Standard
1249$
per month (billed annually)

14-day free trial

Includes:

Up to 10 team members
Unlimited courses
Custom design?
Managed LMS
Mobile-optimized site
Learner Certificates
Future updates & upgrades
Daily backups
Build your own domain?
Basic support?
STANDARD PLAN
Professional
2099$
per month (billed annually)

14-day free trial

Includes:

All the features in
STANDARD
+
Up to 20 team members
Author Training
One language pack
Analytics & Reports
Learner Reports
Advanced Support?
.
PROFESSIONAL PLAN
Premium
3149$
per month (billed annually)

14-day free trial

Includes:

All the features in
PROFESSIONAL
+
Up to 30 team members
Mobile Interface
Basic Instructional Designer
Additional onboarding & training
Two language packs
Single sign-on, LDAP
EU / US / Asia Hosting
PREMIUM PLAN

Choose your plan and start building your own platform! Try it 14 days for free.

Standard
1549$
per month (billed annually)

14-day free trial

Includes:

Up to 10 team members
Unlimited courses
Custom design?
Managed LMS
Mobile-optimized site
Learner Certificates
Future updates & upgrades
Daily backups
Build your own domain?
Basic support?
STANDARD PLAN
Professional
2549$
per month (billed annually)

14-day free trial

Includes:

All the features in
STANDARD
+
Up to 20 team members
Author Training
One language pack
Analytics & Reports
Learner Reports
Advanced Support?
.
PROFESSIONAL PLAN
Premium
3699$
per month (billed annually)

14-day free trial

Includes:

All the features in
PROFESSIONAL
+
Up to 30 team members
Mobile Interface
Basic Instructional Designer
Additional onboarding & training
Two language packs
Single sign-on, LDAP
EU / US / Asia Hosting
PREMIUM PLAN

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.