A third reason why traditional management training fails is that it does not reinforce the application of the new knowledge or behavior.
Once managers leave a training class, they are highly unlikely to apply what they have learned because they do not feel confident enough in the new skill.
For example: The managers attend a training program on delegation. They learn the steps involved in making delegation decisions, but they aren’t given an opportunity to plan how to apply the steps to delegate a specific task. As a result, they leave without a plan of action. My years of training have proven that, if the participants in a training program don’t have an opportunity to practice what they’ve learned while still in the classroom, they are highly unlikely to apply it when they are back on the job. Without the dedicated time and support they could have received in the classroom, they lack confidence, are afraid to try something new and fail, and don’t have the time to practice.
Consequences: Again, the managers have wasted their time, energy and money. They leave the training without any confidence in their ability to delegate. As a result, they avoid using delegation to lighten their workload or provide growth opportunities to their employees. This decision not to delegate will, either immediately or ultimately, adversely affect the quality and timeliness of their performance, as well as the development and morale of their employees.
A better alternative: The class on delegation allocates sufficient time for the managers to identify what they need to delegate, decide the level of decision making authority they will provide, select the appropriate employee, resolve the most practical way to monitor the employee’s performance, etc. The managers pair up to discuss their respective delegation plans and make any necessary refinements based on the feedback they receive. The managers leave the class with a concrete plan of action and confidence in their ability to implement it.
Tips: Make sure that all management (and employee) development training programs are highly participatory. This means that the training participants are enabled and expected to apply what they are learning throughout the program. Ensure that there are learning activities that check for retention, so both the instructor and the participants can see and assess their progress. Sufficient time to practice what they’ve learned and an action plan to apply what they’ve learned are both critical. It also helps to establish the expectation that, after the class, they will share their plans with upper management. The managers’ new found confidence will ensure that they will try to implement their plan- and upper management’s involvement will reinforce the managers’ actual implementation.