“John” glanced excitedly at the conference room walls filled with easel sheets, plans and ideas. And then sighed deeply as he shuffled though his deep pile of notes and action items.
“Karin, I guarantee you, I’ll be a better leader tomorrow morning as a result of your Winning Well bootcamp. And I’m almost certain I’ll still be a better leader the following week, and maybe even the week after that.
It’s week three that worries me. How can I be sure to maintain the ROI and that I keep applying these Winning Well techniques when real life hits the fan?”
John’s question is real. If you’re like most managers, you’ve left more than one training program with good intentions, only to fall back into old behaviors. So how do you make the training stick?
6 Sure-Fire Ways to Ensure Your Training Sticks
- Focus on one behavior change at a time.
When you learn game-changing leadership techniques, it’s tempting to try everything all at once. After all, if these techniques produce results, you owe it to your team to use them. Right? Perhaps. But not all at the same time. Pick one specific behavior or approach you know will make the impact and integrate it into your leadership approach. Practice it consistently. Tweak it. Make it your own. Ask for feedback. Once you feel confident and competent in that behavior, the timing might be right to add in another technique. Too much change all at once will overwhelm both you and your team.
- Find an accountability partner.
Change is hard, and it can be lonely. It’s much easier to give up when no one’s looking. Find someone you trust who understands what you’ve just learned (someone else in your training class is a great choice). Share the behavior you’re working on and make a commitment to check in with one another once a week to see how things are going and discuss challenges and brainstorm next steps.
- Invite your team on the journey.
Tell your team what you’ve learned and what you’ve chosen to work on and why. Invite them to notice when it’s working and offer suggestions as to what you can do better. Your team already knows you’re not perfect, and they’ll be delighted to know you’re working on becoming a more effective manager.
- Teach what you’ve learned.
One of the best ways to become a rock star at a skill is to teach it. Consider sharing some of the tools you’ve learned and teach them to others.
- Ask for feedback.
Make it a point to ask for feedback on the impact your new approach is having on the people you’re leading. Ask open-ended questions about what you can do to improve.
- When you screw up, apologize and try again.
New habits don’t come easy. If you slip back into old behaviors, apologize and try again. Your team knows you’re not perfect. They just want to know you’re trying.Training is important, but what matters most is what you do when you get back to your team. With just a bit of focus, you can ensure the strongest ROI for you and your team.
Give yourself (and your team) the gift of a fast start to the new year. Join our Winning Well event in MD this December. Click on the image to the left for more information.
You ask a really important question: how can we make training stick? As boring as it sounds, sometimes repetition can also make an impact. When we keep hearing the message, it eventually becomes engrained into our thinking. That requires leadership to truly “be on board” with the training message and find ways to keep bringing it back to their team.
LaRae, I so agree with you. David and I prefer to work with clients over a several month period (for example 4 times over a 6 month period, rather than just one full day session. Or hold a full day session, then have the participants follow-up with our online course, and then perhaps a book group as they read Winning Well together and work through the exercises). Repetition and practice go a long way in helping to engrain the behaviors most critical to results that last.
I did a leadership vision workshop for an organization a few years ago and we did great work in the room. There were ahas flying, committments made, but what helped make it stick was taking it out of the room as a priority. They gave an update to their team that afternoon and in morning meetings over the course of the next month. They also posted their vision in their offices for everyone to see. It served as a reminder to the team and to the leaders themselves. When they were having a meeting or on a call, their committment was visually front and center. Eventually, their intentions and learning no longer needed the paper on the wall to be a part of their daily experience.
Love your recommendations here. Especially finding an accountability partner who is willing to call you out when you go off track.
Alli, That sounds fantastic! I love the idea of a series of follow-up meetings and visualization. One client I’m working with now did something very similar. In addition to the 4 month Winning Well bootcamp (4 1/2 day sessions over a 4 month period), the CEO, HR and I met with each Director one on one to align on strategic goals. Then, posted the aligned cascading goals prominently in the office. Next we’re doing a 2 day offsite in December to review progress and align on priorities for 2017.
I really do appreciate the level of knowledge that you bring to the table with well written articles like this, thank you!