Find out how a multinational company made their training stick for increased ROI, an organization is using a top-down approach introducing performance thinking throughout their entire organization, get insights in research on training of adult learners and learn how a recycling company is addressing corporate culture and values in a concrete and specific way, using performance thinking.

These are “Four Fat ’n Funky” reasons why you should’ve been at Bainbridge Island, just outside Seattle, WA last week for the Performance Thinking Network’s yearly Six Boxes® Summer Institute.

One of these reasons alone made it worth the trip, and I’ll share it with you. In this first post I’ll report on “training made to stick”:

Training for sustainability

Dr. Carl Binder has been working with a particular multinational company for many years. His contribution has been transformative to that company and it’s a base for their work with performance. Performance Thinking is absolutely not just a flavor of the day to them (although they thought it was, initially).

A huge, multi-year project where launched to implement an electronic administrative system to replace the use of a paper-based system, for thousands of users. The training department realized they needed not only training but also a change in ongoing support of behavior influences in order to make the training stick.

How could they possibly make it?

Based on their experience on developing training, combined with the results from a pilot training, they prepared for the launch:

  • They did a performance analysis prior to launching.
  • Initial manager buy-in was necessary and in place.
  • Training material with extra notes was available for coaches.
  • Coaching was in place and a communication plan was made, etc.

A survey was sent out directly after training and another one after 30 days. They got very positive evaluations. People really liked the training and thought it was very good.

However, they where immediately flooded with questions after the training. Questions that wouldn’t be possible to address in the training, it would have taken three times as long to do the training if all where addressed.

Organizations can be good at launching initiatives, but more seldom are they good at sustaining them. We know from experience and research show, that four to six weeks after training is delivered, people tend to revert back to previous behavior.

What were they going to do now?

To turn new behavior into sustained habits, a Sustainment Plan was required. The language of Six Boxes® Performance Thinking and the analytical steps layed a foundation for how this company did just that.

They began a second performance analysis by interviewing the people who had gone throughout the training. During the interviews there was one particularly vital question to ask:

– Knowing that others are going to make the transition to the new system, what advice would you get to a fellow trainee?

Both trainees and managers had insights to share:

  • Be patient it takes a couple of months to be comfortable with this. The new system reduced speed for several weeks; we have just beginning to see benefits.
  • It’s good to have a coach on spot, when a new procedure goes live. You need to have at least one expert on the floor to answer questions.
  • Share ideas at staff meetings to increase speed and efficiency.
  • Watch someone who is good at using this. My time improved about 50 %.
  • I used the system for a couple of weeks, and then I went back to the old system (paper).

The last answer is probably the most important answer and the one they wanted the least. It put the team to work on arranging boxes 1-4 for the trainees. Among a number of things they helped managers to set expectations for system usage, addressed users who consider going back to paper, let staff know we know it’s going to take some time to get up to speed, set goals for monthly reporting, start tracking increase of percentage of users, how this was helping people to gain speed – share data across the stakeholders.

Just in time support for the most common tasks where created, subject matter experts and coaches for support where identified and engaged. Managers scheduled periodic feedback sessions with staff. Coaches volunteered and everybody shared their knowledge as being the expert. This has really impacted the staff’s motivation to adopt the new system.

Establish a culture that supports the continuous improvement over time.

Designing a course, beginning from the point of the work-output has had a significant impact on the business. It started with a familiar process flow, but additionally defining the work-outputs along the process steps and what ”good” looked like and how to get there. Here is the team’s description:

We created scenarios for each process step and described what ”good” and ”bad” could look like. Then we asked exemplary performers ”what’s an example of when things went really good at this stage of the process?” And ”what’s an example when things went really slowly, problems with communication, etc? How did that look?”

Then we designed our training around those example scenarios so we would show and discuss different perspectives and learn from that.

Additional skills where identified among top performers. Skills that not necessarily are required for performers in these positions, but which made a difference, e.g. ability to manage time lines, strong facilitation and communication skills, leadership and management skills.

When these skills became apparent to the performers as success factors for positively implementing the new system, they got very motivated using and acquiring these skills. They even became eager to develop skills as a career path and went beyond the operational requirements for their current position.

Then business results where showing positive as intended, on this multi-year process. The training department is not called in only for training anymore but for performance solutions.

Takeaway for ROI

When you can partner with the client and stakeholders, it accelerates performance thinking across the organization, well beyond a single project.

Effective training requires multiple factors to be considered and acted upon. Not only the training itself.

It’s important when considering a multi-year process, to determine where the pause points are where a second performance analysis can be made. This is important to build upon the knowledge gained over time since initial launch.

When we include success stories from the internal client and continue to promote that engagement, we can see direct correlation with business results and how we are a part of the return on investments. Further, the performance thinking has supported a viral culture of continuous improvement or operational excellence.

Click the button to subscribe. Make sure not to miss the remaining updates below. They’re coming soon:

2. Handling growth with performance thinking.

3. Research on training of adult learners.

4. Making corporate culture concrete and specific.

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