We were doing an audit of People processes in an organization and the talk turned to training effectiveness. Talking to an experienced training person that day, I was struck by the lack of insight she had regarding the very process of learning. Particularly with respect to behavioural training.

She spoke at length about the number of training programs they conducted, the number of participants trained and so on. Soon it became clear to me, that their focus was more on Butts on Seats than on actual learning. When asked about how changes in post-program behaviours were tracked, she looked blank and gave some vague answer about how it depends on the individual.

Ineffective learning results when something general is taught by way of knowledge or skills. The learner is not able to apply these to their day to day situations. Even if they do, there is little appreciation for the change and the result which makes learners stop whatever little they are doing to implement learnings.

Effective learning is characterized by a strong focus on identifying specific learning needs crucial for job success. The very relevance of these needs and the ease of application enthuses learners to make changes incorporating what they have learnt.

This is enhanced with genuine appreciation for efforts made to change- which in turn encourages another cycle of learning.

I have found that the best learning experiences for behavioural change come through team assignments such as working in a cross-functional task force. These enable participants to try out new approaches to people and problems while actually grappling with real life issues.

Mentoring also helps learners inculcate desired behaviours through a process described above.

When you are next spending big money on training initiatives, you would do well to be equipped to measure its effectiveness.

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This is the 82 nd of the “A Step A Day” series : To provide perspective and provoke thought to facilitate self-development across a wide spectrum of issues- big and small- crucial for executive success.