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Al's Column: Seven Rs critical to training

Jan 18/25; Volume 30/Number 15

By Brian Gracon

Screen Shot 2016-01-18 at 12.05.45 PMWe all want to have the best skills possible as we serve our customers, but we all wonder how we can choose the right training programs to develop or improve our skills. We wonder if we can evaluate training programs before we’ve taken them. And we wonder how we can maximize the short- and long-term impacts of training.

There are ways to evaluate and optimize training programs (even before you invest time or money in them). You can discussseven critical factors—I call them the seven Rs—with the training provider when selecting programs for your business.

  • Results. What results have businesses like yours gotten from the training? After all, it’s not about the trainer’s increased sales but about your overall sales. The better the historical results, the more interested you should be in the training. If the training provider doesn’t have any results to discuss, you might want to consider a different provider (when possible).
  • Right training. What exactly will your people be able to do because of the training? Is this what you/they need? First, analyze your customer base to determine what they want and need from you. This analysis will tell you the skills your staff needs when serving these customers. Next, analyze your staff to determine their skill gaps vs. this list. You’ll have a detailed, prioritized list of your business’s training needs.
  • Real training. Is it training complete with skill development, practice and feedback or just another lecture? Business results depend on what your staff does, not just what they know. Make sure training programs include the application of new knowledge and a chance to practice what is being learned. It’s far better to practice on one another during training than to practice on customers. There’s an old training adage: “Don’t expect people to do anything after the training you haven’t seen them do during the training.”
  • Right method. Training comes in several shapes and sizes, from videos to conversations, webinars to eLearning, instructor-led sessions to manuals. The training objectives and the staff’s preferred learning styles will help you choose the best training methods.
  • Right now. Can the training be applied right now in your business? Without immediate application, training fades and won’t deliver short-term or long-term results. Therefore, a training program that relies heavily on participants doing reading assignments, developing action plans or completing assignments “someday” will probably lose a lot of its punch.
  • Reinforcement. Two types of reinforcement are needed: reinforcement for the facilitators of the training (if you have a staff member responsible for ongoing training or on-boarding of new staff), and reinforcement for managers and owners who will serve as coaches after the training. If the program doesn’t include these types of reinforcement, ask for them because they’re critical for ongoing results. (It’s also critical that managers and owners participate in the training so they know what their staffs have learned.)
  • Revisit. After the training, is there a chance to talk with the trainer to review the results from the training and compare them to expectations? You can use the first six Rs as the menu for this review. Develop plans for advanced training or correct deficiencies the next time you use this program.

You’ll be ensured better results from your training programs if you use the seven Rs.