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Dec 12, 2022 Leslie Beale, PCC, JD

How to Get the Most Bang from Your Training Bucks

Think about the last time you attended a leadership training. What do you remember most about the day? Can you name your top three takeaways? And finally, how many of these have you incorporated into your work today?

If your reply to the first question was, “Lunch,” the second, “Not sure I can pinpoint three,” and the third, “Hmmmm…,” you’re not alone.

Despite a historic 100+ billion U.S. dollars this year spent on corporate training, the truth is that we can only retain so much. And according to Ebbinghaus’ Forgetting Curve Theory, in seven days’ time learners will forget 90% of what they’ve been taught. Add in pressing projects and external distractions, and the the value of those dollars and time spent on training activities, training-related technology, and internally and externally sourced training staff plummets.

Is leadership development even worth it? Absolutely. Recent research from the SHRM Research Institute and TalentMLS showed that 86% of HR managers believe training positively affects retention, with 83% believing it is an attractive recruitment tool.

When you make sure your training sticks, your investment will pay dividends. In this blog post we’ll list four steps to help get the biggest bang from your training bucks.  

Step One: Pin Down Your Needs

When team members hit a skills gap or a performance issue, decision makers tend to reach for an external “training” without identifying and addressing the root causes. While this may help the situation temporarily, in time the same concerns will most likely rear their ugly heads.

The training you’re providing should closely align with either the problem you’re experiencing, or the outcome you want to achieve. How to determine this? Start with the following areas:

  • Identify the problem: What are your biggest pain points?

  • Determine the context: What operational efforts are, and will be, occurring?

  • Establish a timeline: When will these goals need to be accomplished?

  • Clarify your budget: What types of training will give you the best results?

  • Choose your approach: How would the training best be performed? A keynote presentation? Half-day workshop? Day-long retreat?

Step Two: Get Specific

Because training can be expensive, decision makers often want to pack a lot in to a single session. Covering too much ground, however, can dilute the message and sabotage your efforts. Keep the subject narrow, and your audience small. Don’t be afraid to customize the training to your organization’s culture and the jobs of the individual learners. By making the training more relevant, you can give more attention to the learning process and the actionable, real-world steps that will help leaders retain and use what they have learned.

Step Three: Use Interactive Learning

One of the best ways to combat the forgetting curve is to engage your learners. We’re not talking about flashy, surface fluff, but instead helping your team members work individually and together to discuss and rehearse the new behaviors.

Use methods like brainstorming, partner discussions, small group problem-solving, or case study analysis, and provide examples of current practices, situations, and systems to which your learners can attach meaning. Have attendees share results with the group. Not only will your employees learn from each other, but this will serve as a built-in team-building exercise which holds value in and of itself. 

Step Four: Reinforce the Training

Don’t let your leadership training be like your second-cousin’s girlfriend whom you met once and will never see again… keep the relationship going! Ahead of the session, identify areas that will be directly impacted by the skills that are learned, and clearly communicate the expected changes. In the weeks following the training, recognize and applaud changed behaviors and offer to help with issues that prove to be a challenge. By keeping the conversation open and creating opportunities to learn by doing, you’ll help your leaders build new, constructive habits that will leverage their gained knowledge to the fullest.

There is no doubt that leadership training is popular among current as well as future employees; team members are eager to grow and develop their career toolkits. By carefully evaluating, planning, undertaking, and reinforcing your company’s training, you’ll make sure that the time and dollars spent on the efforts are well-invested.

Need a partner in combating the Forgetting Curve in your employees? We’re here to help. Book a discovery session and make your next training experience one to remember.

Published by Leslie Beale, PCC, JD December 12, 2022
Leslie Beale, PCC, JD