How to Develop Successful Corporate Training Programs – Part II

In my last post, we discussed what you need to do before you start your training program. If you missed it, you can read it here, but in sum, I looked at the importance for an organization to conduct an internal needs assessment, to survey staff, and to develop curriculum before the training begins. This week, I’d like to discuss two key components that are necessities to ensuring program success: gaining executive buy-in and incentivizing the process.

These components are of utmost importance if you want the information learned in the training program to stick and become integrated into the organization.

1.       Executive Buy In

Arguably the most fundamental aspect of ensuring success with your corporate training program is having high level executive buy in. This may sound obvious, but many training programs crash and burn when leaders agree to support changes in principle but fail to promote them in practice, thereby indicating to employees that it is okay to continue with the status quo.

Support from managers and executives ensure changes stick after the training program ends. The skills and knowledge learned during training needs to be put into practice in the everyday work employees undertake, and that will only occur if business leaders participate in the design and implementation of the program.

Fail early, fail fast

The Harvard Business Review stated in 2012 that “true organizational innovation is impossible without failure” and that the “key to leveraging failure with innovation is to fail fast”[1]. In other words, a fast learning organization fails quickly. This, I couldn’t agree more with.

In order to spur a culture of learning, organizations need to embrace failure. In such a scenario, the leadership allows their staff to fail small and fast, so that they learn quickly and with minimal consequences to the larger health of the company.  However, only with executive buy in will this practice be successful.

When organizations or managers don’t allow their staff to fail, this presents potentially long term dire consequences for the organization. Over time staff get promoted and the higher they move up the organizational ladder, the bigger their first failure will be. The consequence is a lot of lost time, money and people.

By implementing a training program, you are creating the opportunity for small failures within a controlled environment. You are able to push people beyond their comfort zones, where they can learn new skills and hone others without the fear of negatively affecting a budget or a client relationship. Practice makes perfect, and failure is all a part of practice. Utilize it to your advantage.

2.       Incentivize the Process

Assessments, planning, and executive buy in are all great, but how do you ensure you get the appropriate levels of attendance at your training sessions? Of course, developing curriculum that staff are actually interested in is important, but this doesn’t guarantee attendance. You need incentives.

Some of the methods we have found to be successful include:

Tying Attendance to Performance: Knowing that content wasn’t enough, we decided to track staff attendance and tie it to annual reviews. This doesn’t mean to suggest that people get fired if they are unable to attend, but it does mean that staff are responsible for attending a certain number of sessions in order to hit specific performance objectives.

Focusing on the Delivery Mode: In addition to the above, we made certain that the sessions were delivered in multiple, easily consumed formats, so remote staff, or those unavailable to attend on any given day, still had the opportunity to learn from the session. Thus, the sessions are conducted in person at different times throughout the day, in order to maximize attendance. They are also recorded for future playback, as well as live streamed via the web and GoToMeeting. We’ve found that having as many delivery vectors as possible greatly increases attendance.

Today we discussed two important factors that must be considered to produce a successful training program. In my next post we’ll look at metrics.


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