Training is never enough.
John J. Medina, a developmental molecular biologist, stated in May 2008, Harvard Business Review, "Memory is not fixed at the moment of learning, and repetition improves the odds of retrieval." Additional research shows when people learn by doing (e.g., role plays, simulations, case studies), 65% of the learning is retained. When they practice what they have learned in the workplace for a number of weeks, almost all of the learning can be expected to be retained. The key to successfully integrating new learning back into the workplace lies in the implementation outside of the classroom.
Research suggests that when attention is paid to a new behavior for at least three weeks, the brain moves the activity from running in “software” (which uses a lot of energy) to a “hardware” implementation (less use of energy). The connections in the brain have literally been re-ordered.
Everyone has experienced training classes where they felt “converted,” to a new way, seeing the world differently. Then a few weeks later they reflect that while it was a great course, they are still in the same old routine. People are creatures of habit, and breaking habits is challenging. Taking time to adapt to change when we are busy will often take second place to what we’ve always done.
While this is a frustrating experience for the learner, organizationally it’s disastrous. Both the actual cost and opportunity cost of the training were not recovered. If the goal of the training course was behavior change, the training course had no purpose.
Clear and integrated ‘triggers for use,’ including the right tools, facilitation and coaching will help integrate new ways of doing things.
Coaching is a vital component of behavior change and effective implementations.
Coaching must evolve with the learner over time – from encouragement in the first few days or attempts, to new innovative opportunities once maturity has been established.
The importance of coaches cannot be overstated. For coaches to succeed they need:
- Advanced technical knowledge of the skillset to be implemented.
- A change implementation model for the skillset.
- A communication process to follow to maximize retention, performance and behavior change.
By embedding learning through coaching and facilitation, results have shown a 10-20% reduction in time-on-task, 40% reduction in backlog, and 40% reduction in mean time to resolve.
As Medina observed in his article, paying attention to change makes change possible by actually re-ordering the brain. Training alone leaves the behavior change to chance.
Coaching supports change long enough for people to change their minds and integrate the thinking patterns of successful people into their own behaviors.