As any good HR manager, you have probably spent a long time assessing the needs of your management teams in order to identify the right skills and training objectives.
You evaluated timeless and promising proposals from several specialised institutions, business schools, and universities. But here is one question:
Do you have any certainty that the new skills your team learns will be applied from day one when they come back?
To answer this question, you will have to take a step back and look at the big picture!
Our experience shows that the idea of applying new skills should be addressed before, during and after the training programme:
- Before: matching the corporate culture
A simple, but often disregarded question is: are the new skills truly compatible with your existing corporate culture?
If it is not the case, any attempt at putting them into practice will generate resistance from the structure and hence frustration. Just imagine a company where “top-down” is still pretty much the way to approach management.
How do you think the team that is being sent to an “agile” or “scrum” training will feel when they try to apply their new methods in the everyday work of life? And how will their colleagues and managers feel?
There is a good chance that the whole experience ends up in chaos, leaving frustrated workers on both sides. Unless your training programme is part of a change management initiative, it is, therefore, better to make sure the skills learned will blend harmoniously in the existing work context, or constitute a manageable incremental change – one that you can prepare for.
- During: preparing the next steps
A second useful element to take into consideration is the integration of “next steps” inside the training programme itself.
The programme should leave enough room for discussions and workshops on the implementation of new skills in the daily work.
At Solvay Executive Education, we found it quite useful to bring management coaches in to facilitate the discussions and help participants come up with an actionable plan.
- After: supporting participants in their daily endeavors
Putting new skills into practice often requires a change of habits. And you know such a change doesn’t happen overnight.
The best way to make sure their well-crafted plans really become concrete actions is to provide your trainees with an organised follow-up. Our practice shows that regular coaching sessions during the first weeks and months after the end of the programme really make a difference.
Having a safe place to discuss the hurdles they meet along the way helps your management team overcome these obstacles or find alternative ways that deliver the same results.
Next time when you are preparing your external programmes, take a little bit more time to reflect on the three points mentioned above. And never hesitate to challenge your providers!