Author Archives: Caroline Cooper

How to change your team members’ moods

I’m sure from time to time even your most outgoing team members have their off days – those times when they are down, flustered, bored, angry or frustrated.

And of course, this impacts their colleagues.

And your customers.

Most people believe they can’t change their moods, but here are 4 things (including an exercise you can do with your team as part of your customer service training) you can do with your team to influence their moods, so they are more productive and engaged with their job and engaged with servicing your customers well.

Action point

If you only do one thing as a result of watching this, help your team members identify when they are in an unresourceful state and how to change this.



How to get employee buy in

how to get buy in

Getting employee buy in

I’m sure that at some point in your career you’ve been told to get on with a task with no idea why you should do it and therefore either carried out the task, but to the minimum standard, or worse still simply avoided it altogether.

Last week on a management workshop I was running, we discussed how we get people to buy-in to a task, so people do the task willingly, enthusiastically, and even with a degree of pride.

At the very least to get buy in and for team members to do anything with any degree of commitment they need to understand the reasons why – why does it need doing in the first place and why them. Identify reasons or benefits that are personal to them, not just how it helps the business.

Better still ask for their input in what needs to be done or in the way it has to be done. You might be thinking “well if it is a new law or company policy it won’t be open to discussion”. True, what has to be achieved may not be open to discussion, but the way it is achieved might well be.

Let’s say you have a new piece of health and safety legislation to introduce. It’s the law, so it is not negotiable.  But because it is the law, all the more reason why you can’t have people deciding to ignore it. You need that buy in. Threats might work, but not very effectively.

What is negotiable is the way it can be achieved. By asking for people’s ideas, recognising their experience and knowing the work better than anyone, they will often come up with the best way to implement something that on the face of it is just extra workload. The greater the level of involvement in the process and decision-making; the greater the level of buy in.

And if they come away thinking it was their idea, the more likely you are to see it done with some degree of enthusiasm, commitment or pride.

Gaining buy-in Video from the A-Z of managing people

Measuring employee engagement


Systems in Management

Systems in management

Systems to help not hinder

How often have we heard the phrase “I’m sorry, the system won’t allow me to do that.”?

Do you have any systems in place which make life difficult for your team members?

Having the right systems, procedures and checklists in place provides consistency, avoids people having to reinvent the wheel, and minimises errors.

However, poor systems can be not only frustrating for team members, but also impact productivity, the customer experience and ultimately your bottom line.

Here are a few to look out for:

  • No system in place for routine tasks so staff reinvent the wheel every time they carry out similar tasks.
  • Not fully understood, so not followed
  • Over complicated or cumbersome
  • Too much red tape or to-ing and fro-ing that slows everything down
  • Unworkable due to lack of time, right equipment, tools, or products

Any of these inevitably puts extra pressure on your team, particularly when there is a direct impact on customers… They are there to support the team, not create red tape, or stifle personality, initiative and good ideas.

Indications that a system needs reviewing include:

  • Team members failing to deliver the job on time
  • When team members frequently struggle, ask for help make mistakes
  • Top causes of customer complaints

It’s easy for us to become oblivious of how ineffective a system works or poor the equipment when we’re not using it every day. So, check the systems and processes you have in place are still doing the job they were designed to do.

If you only do one thing:

Ask your team for their observations and feedback on existing systems and how the system can be improved.

Systems in management Video

I can’t do that 



Giving Feedback

giving feedback

The giving of feedback is probably one of the most vital skills in management. But your team need to know how they are doing.

According to Ken Blanchard …

“Feedback is the breakfast of champions”

People need to know how they are doing in order to know what to keep doing and what needs improving, and how.  For many employees it is a case of ‘No new is good news’, as they only get to hear if things go wrong. And when they’ve been learning something new or a different way of doing things  – for example customer service training – they need feedback to help hone and develop their new skills.

Giving feedback is not only key for improving and perfecting performance, but – done in a supportive way – is highly motivational. Let’s face it; if you were doing something that constituted poor performance, was annoying, or let others down wouldn’t you like to know?

And equally if you were doing something really well, that made a difference to others and to the business, wouldn’t you like to know it was recognised?

Giving feedback starts with the impromptu “thank you, well done” but that on its own doesn’t tell people enough to sustain or improve performance. To be effective feedback must let people know what specifically was good or bad, what difference it made and how it can be built upon or improved.

Using SAID when giving feedback

One way to do this is by using a very simple model: S A I D

Standard

When giving feedback, particularly on poor performance, it’s useful to know what you are bench-marking this against. If people don’t know what is expected of them, it is very easy to get defensive.  So establish the standards you expect and communicate these.

You may not always need to refer to these during the feedback process, but be mindful of these as you give the feedback.

Action

What is the action they performed?  Emphasis is on their actions, not on your interpretation of it.  So you are feeding back what you observed or heard, not on their intentions, their personality or their character.

Limit the number of actions you comment on a level they can handle – far better to give feedback on one key action that they can digest and build on to make a difference, than ten things which leaves the message diluted (and invariably leaves them demotivated).

Because this is based on fact it is less likely to be challenged. Link back to the standard if necessary to highlight where people have exceeded or fallen short.

Impact

What impact did their actions have on the result?  This can include positive or negative impact on the end result, or on the process itself e.g. the amount of effort needed on their part to achieve the result, or the impact on others, etc.

When giving praise it is so easy to say to someone ‘that was really good, well done’ without saying why it was good or what made the difference this time compared with previous occasions.

Development

How can they build on this for the future?  Remember, the purpose of feedback is to enhance performance and motivate.

So this last stage is important to determine what happens next e.g. develop to make it even better next time around, to correct a mistake or to perfect a process.  Put the emphasis on what is missing rather than what is wrong – building on strengths or positives is far more likely to engender enthusiasm.

Using open questions, ask the individual how they think things can be developed or built upon.  This will help to gain buy in and you may be surprised by the options they suggest.

Here are the three key situations for giving feedback within the workplace.

  1. When all is going well – feedback and praise.
  2. Mixed performance – feedback mixed with positive and corrective action.
  3. When all is not well – feedback to address under-performance.

This model works equally well in all three.

You may recall something referred to as ‘The Praise Sandwich.’  The problems with the praise sandwich are that, in fact, it is a bad news sandwich, and usually the ‘filling’  (i.e. the bad news) is so thin and the ‘bread’ or praise element so thick and fluffy, that the key message gets completely lost.  The result? The person remembers the first and last part of the discussion – the praise – and not the part you want to change.  The end result is that nothing changes.

This is not to say you don’t give something positive at the start of the discussion. This helps to build rapport and makes the recipient of the feedback more receptive. Using the SAID model people know exactly what the issue is.

But by understanding the impact it has had, and having been given an opportunity to put forward their own ideas to avoid it in future, they will still come out of it with some dignity, and you are far more likely to see something change for the better.

Feedback is most effective when it is given as soon after the event as you can. But sometimes you may be better off delaying until the end of the shift or day. Take into account whether the timing is appropriate for the individual to take on it board (e.g. avoid times when they are under tight time pressures, or about to start something for which they need total focus).

Consider your mood, e.g. if you are annoyed at seeing poor performance do you need time to cool off.  Do you need to wait until you can take them away from their workplace for privacy; as a general rule praise in public, reprimand in private.

Identify your motives before giving feedback i.e. what do you want the end result to be? Be prepared for their reaction, and how you will respond. But be direct, don’t sugar coat the message so it gets lost.

Give praise where it is due, but when it’s not, make it clear that you need to see improvements or changes Preserve the other person’s self esteem by delivering bad news in a non-critical way, and concentrate on your pitch and tone so that valuable information is not seen as a complaint, criticism, whinge or nag.

Given in a constructive way feedback can not only improve performance but can raise morale, build rapport and promote initiative.  It also opens the door for your team to provide you with some feedback too.

before – during – after feedback 

Video; how to give feedback  (starting at 1:47).

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Conscious Incompetence

conscious competence

Get a return on your investment in training by helping people move up the Conscious Competence Learning Model

Have you ever had the task of changing the behaviour of one of your team members who thinks they know it all? I think we’ve all encountered such people who are blissfully unaware of their lack of competence. This is when we need to create conscious incompetence.

.I’m sure you’re already familiar with the Conscious Competence Learning Model.

These are the four stages people go through when they are learning something new.

The learner always begins at stage 1 – ‘unconscious incompetence’, and ends at stage 4 – ‘unconscious competence’, having passed through stage 2 – ‘conscious incompetence’ and – 3 ‘conscious competence’.

It’s not possible to jump stages, so when helping people learn something new we need to help them to get to the next stage.

When I’m working with clients to develop management, training or customer service skills there is often an assumption the people I’m working with are already at stage 2. In other words it’s assumed that they already recognise any shortfalls and the need for change or development.

But sadly they’re often still at stage 1 – unconscious incompetence – and not yet aware of any need to develop a new skill or behaviour. Trying to teach somebody something new from this point is a key reason so much training fails!

For anyone to learn something new or change their behaviour there needs to be some motivation to do so. Particularly when it requires some effort on their part. Without that recognition they will not be receptive to learning and the barriers will go up thinking “this doesn’t apply to me”.

In some instances people may previously have been at other levels but have regressed to an unconscious incompetence over a period of time.

From conscious incompetence they may simply have forgotten what is involved.

From conscious competence they may just have got rusty through lack of practice.

Or from a position of unconscious competence they’ve been doing it so long they’ve picked up bad habits. (I think here as an example of many people whose driving skills have lapsed into something verging on dangerous simply because they’ve picked up poor driving habits without being conscious of how bad the driving really is!)

This can present a challenge for us at times, as to undo a bad habit and replace it with a new habit can be more difficult than creating new habits from scratch.

 

Moving from stage 1 to stage 2 ~ Conscious Incompetence

So how do we move somebody from a level of unconscious incompetence to conscious incompetence?

If somebody believes they’re already doing something well this can be a sensitive area (who ever likes to have their driving criticised?!)

One (potentially risky) way of doing this is waiting for something to go wrong. And this is often what is used to prompt training. For example, in the case customer service training it might be after a customer has received poor service and complained, or in the case of management skills it might be when a manager fails to get the response he expects from a team member.

It helps knowing the outcome or standard you’re aiming for, then comparing this with the employee’s level of performance. (Of course we must recognise this isn’t necessarily always a training need; it could be a number of other reasons which I’ll comment on another time. But let’s assume this time it is)

So by now we recognise a learning need, but maybe the individual doesn’t. We shouldn’t assume the employee recognises that shortfall; they need feedback to highlight the gap.

It might be advisable at this point want to steer away from the language used in the model; being told you are incompetent in a task is hardly likely to motivate or engage an employee!

The learner might now be conscious of their ‘incompetence’ or training need but still needs to be motivated to do something about it. This might be created by highlighting its relevance to their role and why it’s important.

But so often this focuses on why it’s important to the business and not what’s relevant to the individual. So focus on what’s in it for them, and of course this could vary from person to person depending on what’s important to the individual.

The better the person understands the training need prior to any tuition, coaching or training beginning the more enthusiastic they will be to even turn up for the training.

The greater the awareness or consciousness of their incompetence the more receptive they will be to learning, development and change, and the quicker they’ll move to a level of conscious competence and ultimately your goal of unconscious competence.

Video

Breaking old habits

Making change when people believe they do this already

How to move beyond conscious competence

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Engaging your team

Engaging your team

Have you sussed what makes them tick?

I had some lovely feedback last week from one of my clients relating to a development programme I’m running for his management team. He was referring to some actions taken from the programme and on this occasion it related to finding out what’s important.

Too many managers waste time trying to work out for themselves what motivates people in their team.

But the answer’s quite simple.

Why

Before I talk about how, let’s understand why; why it’s important for you to understand what’s important to your team members.  When you know what’s important to someone about their work, it enables you to ‘manage’ them in a way that helps them feel valued.

Finding out about what people value outside work as well as in work can be a real insight too.

When you know what’s important to someone outside work you’re in a much better position to allocate tasks that will resonate and engage that person. By looking at the attributes and skills that are needed in those situations that could be applied in the workplace. What people get involved in outside work can give you an inkling as to where their strengths lie.

For example, if they demonstrate a creative streak, do they get involved with highly competitive sports or activities, do they have a role of helping the community, supporting and caring.

Rather than making everybody mediocre at everything they do, why not tap into those strengths, talents and passions so they excel in specific areas, and work as a team to bridge the gaps in individuals’ abilities or interests?

Of course, it’s not always be practical or possible, but if you aim to do this wherever you can you’ll soon see your team members engaging more with their work and get the best from them.

Ask the question

One of the exercises I often do as an ice breaker is to get people either talking about or even drawing images of an accolade or something they’re proud of, be that in or out of work and something recent or from years back.  Just by getting them talking about these makes people feel good, as well as helping me get an insight into what’s important to them. This is a great activity to run in a group setting as team mates also see what’s important and often they’ll discover common interests with their colleagues, which help bring them together.

I also do a variation of this with managers asking them to draw their idea of motivation and engagement. Nine times out of ten I get a £, and invariably I get drawings of trophies, and winning, but what’s also interesting is the variety of other ideas and themes that go up too. Pictures of families and friends, trees and mountains, of sporting activities, to name but a few.

Money, money, money

Everyone assumes money is a key motivator. There’s no denying it’s important; I’m sure none of us would work as hard as we do – if at all – if we weren’t getting paid for it. But does it really motivate or engage people? No. But taking it away will definitely leave people demotivated and disengaged.

So messing up their overtime, delaying their pay review, challenging legitimate expenses, or passing them over for promotion without being given a chance will all inevitably have a negative impact. In the same way as any other ‘hygiene factors’ such as safe working conditions, giving them the right tools and resources for the job, avoiding too much red tape.

No one is going to say “wow” when you provide them, but oh boy, will they notice when you take them away.

Are we any different?

When working with managers I often ask them to list the things that motivate and engage them. Then to think about the most challenging team member and write list of what they believe motivates and engages that person.

The first thing of note is that invariably these lists look very different. Why is it that challenge, achievement and personal development often feature on the first list but not the second? And money, job security and making the job easy often feature on the second list but not on the first.

I then go on to ask which one of the lists they think is most accurate. Of course it’s their own! Because nine times out of 10 the manager hasn’t ever asked the question nor had a discussion on what’s important to that person. It’s all based on assumption and perceptions, and sadly these are so often way off the mark.

So is it any wonder then that it’s easy to end up with a disengaged team if we don’t know what will engage them?

Ask the question

Finding out what’s important to people might start at the interview, and can be built upon during one-to-one reviews, informal discussions and meetings.

Being overly direct and asking ‘what motivates you?’ might not get you the information you’re looking for. So reframe the question, to make it more conversational, such as asking what they enjoy about certain tasks and why; how they feel about particular aspects of their job, what they’ve been most proud, or recent achievements at work. Conversely ask about the things that disappoint or frustrate them, and what they’d change if they could.

Ask casually about how their weekend was or what they have planned for the evening ahead or their day off, and show an interest in what they get up to outside of work.

Take action

So, stop trying to suss out for yourself what makes your team members tick. Ask them!

Related content

How important is happiness at work

Understanding your team video



More than just a headache

employees with migraine

Trusting your team when sick

I know I’ve talked about trust many times before, and that it’s two-way; if you want your team to trust you, you need to demonstrate your trust in them.

Today I want to talk about a very specific example. Believing them when they phone in sick.

This week is migraine awareness week, and so I thought I’d share my own experiences of how this has been treated with suspicion by my employers and the impact that’s had on me.

Migraine affects 1 in 5 of the population and every day in the UK 190,000 suffer a migraine attack. The World Health Organisation ranks it as one of the 20 most disabling conditions, however it is the least publicly funded neurological illness relative to its economic impact (it costs the UK economy in the region of £7 billion).

My migraine hell started in my early teens and I remember whilst at university some of my fellow students reporting that they thought I was dying when they first saw me with a migraine attack.

Mercifully when I was working in Florida for 14 months I can only recall one migraine attack; maybe I was just a little bit more relaxed while I was there. Frustratingly the one attack I did have was when I was visiting friends and I certainly wasn’t fit to drive home and missed work the next day. My boss simply could not comprehend that a ‘headache’ could prevent me from getting to work.

Then as I moved into management positions initially my migraine attacks became more frequent. Although I had a certain amount of empathy from the company I always felt that there was an element of suspicion that my ailments weren’t genuine. A consultation with the company doctor at the time confirmed this as “classical migraine” and from then on in my colleagues were a little more understanding.

If you have friends or family who suffer from migraine you’re probably already aware of just how debilitating it can be. But if you’re an employer and it affects someone’s reliability and quality of their work you may not be quite so understanding. Migraine is not simply a headache, and pumping yourself up with painkillers does nothing to alleviate the symptoms, and in fact in many cases can make things worse, especially nausea and sickness.

Talk to your employee about any known triggers to a migraine attack. Quite often it might be a combination of triggers that bring on an attack rather than just one. In my own case there are a few things that I am wary of, and in the past as an employee it could sometimes be difficult to avoid without letting others down. Of course the net result is you let them down any way if you then end up being ill.

Here are a few triggers that I’m aware of which can crop up in the workplace:

  • Low blood sugar, made worse by skipping or working through the lunch break
  • Dehydration, so not having access to water
  • Interruption to sleep patterns, so made worse by shift patterns, for example working a late shift followed by an early shift
  • Extremes of temperatures, e.g. Overheating in stuffy rooms or hot kitchens
  • Changes in barometric pressure or weather and/or extreme cold temperatures
  • Flickering lights
  • Undue stress or worry, which is often okay until people relax and then the migraine hits and on the first day of their holiday or at a weekend, so they come back to work feeling as though they’ve never had a break.

If you have employees with migraine and they have not sought professional help, then do them (and yourself) a favour and refer them to the Migraine Centre. More details below.

Extent of the Problem of Migraine

  • Every day in the UK 190,000 suffer a migraine attack
  • 90,000 in the UK miss school/work every day because of migraine
  • Migraine affects 1 in 5 of the population
  • Migraine is most common between the ages of 30-50, and in women.
  • More than ¾ of sufferers report that their activities are limited by their condition
  • Most sufferers say migraine interferes with family and social relationships
  • Migraine is more common than diabetes, epilepsy and asthma combined
  • The World Health Organisation ranks migraine as one of the 20most disabling conditions.
  • 1 in 3 neurologist referrals are for headache
  • Migraine is the least publicly funded neurological illness relative to its economic impact
  • Over ⅓ of sufferers face difficulties and discrimination at work because of their migraines
  • Less than half of migraine patients consult a physician

National Migraine Centre has for 40 years provided treatment to sufferers of migraine and cluster headache as well as education to healthcare professionals. Patients can self-refer and are asked to donate towards the cost of their appointment as the Clinic receives no government funding. The clinic is based in London and open to those from all over the UK, however hopes to setup outreach clinics in the future to improve accessibility for sufferers around the country.

Migraine treatment has come a long way in the last ten years, but recent developments show there is more that can be done. The current approach is for treatment that targets the head (as opposed to the whole body with drugs). These treatments include; Greater Occipital nerve block injections, Botox injections (recently approved by NICE – The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence, and due to be offered by the NHS from mid September), and handheld devices giving electrical or magnetic stimulation of the brain.

For information regarding the charity and its work:

National Migraine Centre. 1st Floor Citibase Millbank Tower, 21-24 Millbank, London, SW1P 4QP.

Website: www.NationalMigraineCentre.org.uk Registered Charity no 1115935.

The example here is for migraine, but the same principles apply to many forms of sickness, particularly if it’s not a form of sickness you fully understand, for example mental illness. If you’ve never experienced it yourself, take time to listen, to understand, and then make your judgement, but not before. Very few employees deliberately fake illness, so don’t treat them as if they do.

Remember it’s all down to demonstrating your trust in them.
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Measuring Employee Engagement

measuring employee engagement

Measuring employee engagement. Poor engagement is costing businesses millions, but if you don’t measure it how can you manage it?

As a business owner understandably you’re focused on sales and growth.

Most business owners I work with are too.

But I also see many letting money slip through their fingers unnoticed. Profits they could retain with a few simple steps.

We’ve finally woken up to the benefits of having an engaged team yet evidence still shows that 80% or more of staff are not engaged at work.

That’s shocking and frankly quite sad.

Particularly as according to a study by Gallup, having a highly engaged workforce leads to 20% higher sales, and 21% higher profitability.

The high cost of disengagement

So, if engaged employees improve revenue and profit, how much are disengaged employees costing you? The numbers can be staggering. When Gallup collected data on this, they found disengaged employees have a 37% higher rate of absenteeism, 18% lower productivity, and 15% lower profitability.

So it’s costing businesses millions.

It’s crazy that business owners measure their financial and sales performance, yet so few measure how engaged their employees are.

And, as the management guru Peter Drucker famously said, “If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it.”

Unfortunately disengaged employees aren’t necessarily that easy to spot.

They come to work on time, they do what’s asked of them and they say yes to your requests.

But…

These are also the people who only do the minimum expected and seldom more, they rarely go out of their way to support their colleagues, and are liable to whinge the minute your back is turned.  They’re not consciously unhappy, but nor are they enthused, excited or energised about their job.

But the worst of it is they are like a rotten apple. If we don’t spot them early they bring everyone else along with them.

Look here to take the first step in measuring your engagement levels right now.

Are you measuring employee engagement?

If you only do one thing towards measuring employee engagement:

Request a free engagement assessment here to get anonymous feedback on what you can do to improve and make your business a better place to work.

And stop those profits sneaking out the back door.

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Employee Recognition starts with Thank You

employee recognition

Employee Recognition? Why do 78% of employees feel they’re not recognised?

This isn’t the blog post I intended to share today; but I was prompted by seeing 2 uplifting posts on LinkedIn this morning, both celebrating team members’ efforts. One was from the team member herself, sharing the thank you note and flowers she’d received from her general manager, the other from the GM saying a public thank you to his team.

“So what?” you may ask. Is this such a big deal?

I believe it’s all too easy whilst businesses and their teams are working so hard to get back to any kind of normality, particularly when they are struggling to recruit staff, that some of the softer elements of leadership get forgotten.

Pre pandemic I remember reading a statistic from UK research that stated that 78% of employees didn’t feel recognised! That to me is a pretty shocking – and sad – statistic.

I doubt strongly it’s any better now.

And yet employee recognition can have a massive impact on productivity, on customers’ experience, and on staff retention.

I know I’ve written about employee recognition many times before but here are 6 ideas for employee recognition and saying thank you:

  1. A thank you will have more impact if it’s spontaneous and in the moment; at the end of a busy shift, when you spot someone helping a colleague, when you see someone going out of their way to help the customer, whenever anyone demonstrates your values.
    .
  2. Saying thank you will have far more impact if you’re specific; what are you thanking them for, what impact that has had on the team, for your customers, for the business, etc.
    .
  3. Ensure your thanks extends to those beavering away behind-the-scenes. Your grounds and building maintenance teams, your housekeepers or cleaners, your finance team. All these people have an impact on your customers’ experience, either directly or indirectly, and ultimately on your business success.
    .
  4. Make your thank you’s personal and appropriate for the individuals. What would they appreciate most? Public recognition? A handwritten note from you or your owner/managing director? The opportunity to leave an hour earlier to tend to a personal matter? A small token gift relevant to an interest or hobby? Apart from the last idea, none of these cost; it’s never about the money. It’s the thought that counts.
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  5. Encourage your supervisors and line managers to show recognition. Recognition doesn’t have to be rationed, so encourage them to give this freely. Help them identify how powerful recognition can be. This, of course, starts with you and how you recognise them; be their role model!
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  6. Recognition doesn’t just come from the top. Make it easy for team members to show recognition for one another: when a colleague has stepped in to help someone who is struggling, when another department has mucked-in to support on a big event, when someone’s made a personal sacrifice to cover sickness.

Take action

If you only do one thing, make a point of thanking every one of your team members for something this week.

10 ways to show your team some love

Employee recognition ideas from A-Z of Managing People video series



ROI on training

In the real world

In all my years as a trainer the #1 mistake I see businesses making with their staff training is not doing enough to make an easy transition from theory to the real world, so they fail to get any ROI on training.

What takes place in the safety, and often false environment, of the training room can be very different from what happens in the big bad real world. Particularly so with any skills training which needs practice to perfect, and time to form new habits.

This can mean, not only a poor return on investment, but can also have a negative and demotivating impact on the employee.

Here are 17 ideas to make the transition easy and gain a greater ROI on training:

  1. Avoid people leaving the training session asking “what was all that about then?” Make the link to their role before the training even begins, by discussing how the training is relevant to their job.
    .
  2. Check understanding of key points, and ask for ideas on how they are going to implement what they have learnt.
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  3. Help the team identify situations where they can put their learning into practice as quickly as possible, preferably within hours, or at least the next day or two, and get their commitment to one or two specific actions.
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  4. Make it clear what you want to happen long term as a result of the training, and get your team’s commitment to some specific actions – with timescales and allow them time to talk through how they’re going to achieve them.
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  5. Allow a free and open dialogue to flush out anything that might be standing in the way of that, or any concerns they have which will make it difficult or even impossible for them to implement any aspects of the training.
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  6. Check they have the necessary resources, time, authority, peer support and opportunity to put it into practice. If not, ensure you get these in place before the momentum is lost.
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  7. Look for signs of uncertainly: lack of confidence or a concern they might make mistakes, unclear on which actions are their job opposed to anyone else’s, not sure how this fits in with existing processes or ways of working, etc.
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  8. Be available for individuals to ask questions on a one to one basis after training; not everyone feels comfortable raising queries in front of colleagues, and some may need a while to reflect on what’s been covered.
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  9. Schedule time for people to practise and time for you or their line manager to check how they are doing. Or assign a mentor, coach or buddy to help overcome the initial barriers to perfecting their new skill.
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  10. Provide back-up resources such as prompt cards, diagrams or checklists.
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  11. Don’t expect perfection straight away. People need time to practise and find their own way of doing things, and not be afraid to make the odd mistake so long as they learn from it.
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  12. Everything takes longer when it’s new and you’re still learning a little from trial and error. Confidence can be low as you get to grips with it all.
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  13. Don’t let potential barriers become an excuse for not putting things into practice. Follow up promptly; the longer problems are left unresolved, the less the likelihood of anyone getting to the point it becomes habit.
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  14. Observe how they handle specific situations e.g. following customer service training observe conversations with customers and give feedback afterwards: what they’re doing well, what they could do more of, and give the appropriate coaching, support and guidance on areas where they need more help.
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  15. Reinforce messages by building exercises and activities into your daily and weekly calendar, etc., as part of team briefings or meetings, 1:1 reviews and ongoing feedback.
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  16. Recognise the role line managers have in the follow up to training. What’s working well, what fresh perspectives have they brought, what needs more practice?
  17. If the training isn’t being implemented identify what’s getting in the way now, not wait until they’ve been struggling and given up hope. When something doesn’t work right first time around it’s all too easy for them to go back to their old and familiar ways.

Get people practising their new skills, systems or ways of working every day and you’ll quickly see them build confidence, develop competence and it will soon become habit, so you get an ROI on training.

The Ebbinghaus Curve of Forgetting

Planning development video