The Final Ingredient of High-Impact Training

By on September 1, 2009
Final Ingredient of High-Impact Training

Doing what needs to be done to ensure that the skills and knowledge learned in a training program are retained—that they “stick” in the mind of the learner—and are applied on the job is a crucial challenge. It’s a challenge that must be met if a training investment is to have a chance of impacting the bottom line.

But it’s not the final challenge. The final challenge is ensuring that the new skills and techniques learned in a training program are translated into continuing, habitual performance on the line. Unless this happens, all of the time and money invested in a training program is wasted. All of us know from experience how easy it is to revert back to old, habitual ways of performing our jobs. Changing the way we work and making sure these changes stick is tough work. It takes constant focus and it takes constant reinforcement.

What can be done to make sure that employees are focused on new behaviors and that these behaviors are continually reinforced? In my experience, two factors play a major role in making this happen.

Training PosterFirst, communications media in the form of posters mounted throughout the work area play a major role in maintaining a focus on new behaviors. The messages conveyed by these posters should be simple and, of course, directly related to the new behaviors learned in the training. Here’s an example of this type of poster. The behavior being reinforced by this poster is returning tools to their proper storage location and is related to the application of the 5S System’s Store Phase.

Second, positive reinforcement delivered by front-line supervisors and executed effectively plays a major role in transforming new behaviors into habitual behaviors. Research studies have shown that the most effective supervisors spend 70% of their time catching performers doing the right thing and giving them immediate positive reinforcement. This reinforcement can take the form of comments like “great job!” as well as the use of reward media with monetary value. Two important factors in determining the impact of the reinforcement are that: 1) the behavior being reinforced is directly related to the training and, 2) the reinforcement is given immediately following the performance. For more information on how the use of communications media and reward and reinforcement drive high-impact training, call or email George Friesen, 314-539-5376.

About George Friesen

George Friesen serves as Business Practice Leader - Lean Manufacturing for the Workforce Solutions Group of St. Louis Community College. He has led the College's Lean business practice area since 2000. Prior to joining the College, George worked for Maritz Performance Improvement Company. Over the past 35 years, he has served a wide variety of Fortune 500 companies, specializing during the past eleven years in Lean Manufacturing, focusing especially on the 5S System, Lean leadership and thinking processes, Value Stream Mapping, and Lean team building. George is a graduate of Washington University (AB), Webster University (MA), and United States Air Force Flight Training.

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