Research shows that only 1 in 6 participants will use what they’ve learned during a normal organizational training initiative. For this reason, we would like to offer a few tips to get the most impact out of training in your organization/agency.
Team One Network offers several instructor level courses. The intent with each of these programs is that the graduates return to their agencies and develop training that fits their specific needs using the tools that we give them during the course. We have been in the instructor training business for a very long time and realize that many of the students who come to our training are currently certified instructors in multiple subjects. Most will go on to continue their instructor level certifications with us or any number of other training companies.
At Team One Network, we subscribe to the philosophy that students come to us to learn, “A Way – not The Way.” Most of our fellow training vendors approach instructor level training in a similar way.
Tips for Improving Training Impact
Ensure that the goals that the training will affect are clear to the participants. Establish clear and easy to understand outcomes using action verbs. They should be objective in that they limit interpretations.
- Example: “Participants will be able to use a handheld flashlight in conjunction with a pistol mounted light source during tactical operations at night.”
- Example: “Participants will be able to operate ________ (whatever equipment) in accordance with department policy and manufacturer specifications.
Personal goals and behaviors are formulated with the immediate manager. When supervisors send their people to training they generally have an understanding of the person’s training needs and can help identify training outcomes and approaches that will best suit the employee during and after the training.
Managers expect the participants to use the outcome of the training. “what gets measured matters.” When supervisors expect that the training produces measurable skill improvement and can evaluate performance against the training outcomes training is more successful. Hard skills, such as shooting or equipment operations are often easier for supervisors to evaluate and measure objectively. Soft skills, such as communication, leadership, de-escalation are very subjective. Involving supervisors from across the agency in the development of measurable outcomes will help ensure success.
Participants practice desired behaviors during training. Giving participants a list of outcomes in a lecture format without allowing time for practice is a recipe for forgetting the lesson. If there are too many outcomes to allow proper time to practice, consider prioritizing and reducing the list. Remember, “Tell me and I may forget, Teach me and I may remember, Involve me and I may learn.” -Benjamin Franklin.
There is a clear plan on where and how to apply the new behaviors back at work. Participants arrive at training with one question on their minds, “WIIFM – what’s in it for me?” Addressing this early and often during the training will help with retention. Keep the training relatable and if possible related to multiple facets of their daily duties. During active shooter training for instance, the many of the techniques demonstrated and practiced will apply in the event a domestic disturbance turns into a gun-fight.
Obstacles and support needs are identified and tackled. Instructors, especially instructors who train multiple agencies simultaneously are familiar with the support obstacle of, “my agency doesn’t issue those… We have X-brand instead.” Identifying this sort of obstacle early in the training will help ensure that the training remains relative. Other obstacles include training officers of different sizes similar skills. For instance, where should an officer carry their tourniquet? Trainers may need to take into account small wasted officers who have run out of real-estate on their duty belt as well as injured or overweight officers who may not be able to reach all areas of their duty belt.
Participants have a clear engagement in behaviors to be applied. How often will participants use the skills covered in the training. For instance, training courtroom security officers on lowlight operations might be incredibly important and perhaps even mandatory – but likely will not be required often. How will the training be used and sustained?
Participants can see that others are using the desired behaviors and learn from their success. As Peter Drucker tells us, culture beats strategy every time. If the training provided is new or especially contrary to the current methods, it may be difficult to make the training stick. It might help to establish policies and train early adopters intentionally in cases like these. It is also important that supervisors are trained on, or at least aware of the same training that subordinates receive.
Managers follow the progress closely and provides feedback. Training managers should work closely with supervisors to ensure training delivered equates to training used.
A library of repetition material and further reading is easily accessible. Similar to #2, “participants can see that others use the desired behaviors”, it may help to establish a video library or library of articles that support the training. This is especially important when internal culture does not fully support the training initiative but other agencies or industries are experiencing success with it.