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Engaging Employees in Learning

Improve commitment and retention of what they are learning – a client story

In order for employees to retain what they learned in a training program (regardless of the format), it is essential to engage them in a variety of ways before, during and after the program. Let me share one example through a client story.

An international organization partners with Abudi Consulting Group (ACG) to deliver both supervisor and mid-level management training programs three times a year. Each of the programs are year-long in length and a combination of both on the ground (face-to-face) and virtual training along with coaching. While employees are always eager to take training (therefore filling up the programs is never an issue!), we want to be sure that they are engaged before, throughout and after the program. In this way, we demonstrate the seriousness of the training (gain commitment) and ensure learning sticks once the program has ended and they are back on the job.

At this particular client, here is how we engaged employees before, during and after the program:


We had each participant sign a Program Commitment Letter which ensured they understood the requirements of:

  • Attending each session – face-to-face and virtual
  • Participated in coaching sessions
  • Participated in the collaboration portal that would be used throughout the program
  • Did all the required work
  • Developed and worked toward completing their action plan for learning

We used ACG’s 360 assessment tool to assess program participants. As part of the 360 we interviewed participants and their managers. This data was used to help in individual coaching as well as to assist the participants in developing their customized action plan. Each participant completed a pre-program action plan with a focus on areas of development based on:

  • The 360 assessment results
  • Their personal development goals (where do you want to be in 3, 5, 10+ years?)

We also asked each participant to go out to the Microsoft SharePoint® Collaboration portal we would be using throughout the program to introduce themselves to their fellow participants in the program.

During the Program

Engaging participants would be easier during the face-to-face and coaching sessions. In order to ensure continued engagement during virtual sessions and in between sessions, however, we did the following:

  • Assigned discussion topics that participants would lead during the virtual sessions
    • For example, a participant who led a team of remote workers was asked to lead a discussion about how to develop a working relationships with remote workers
  • We assigned participants to kick off a discussion on the collaboration portal
    • For example, if a discussion on the portal was focused on sharing a challenge in managing others, we assigned one participant to be the first to start the conversation.
  • We assigned specific due dates for participation in discussions on the collaboration portal.
    • For example, we required all participants to post an initial response to a discussion topic by particular date and then required each participant to respond substantially to a peers’ discussion – sharing information or best practices, helping them solve a problem, etc. – by another date.
  • We utilized the discussion portal to post mini case studies or problem solving scenarios and assigned participant teams to respond to the situation in preparation for a virtual session.
  • We worked with participants to put due dates for progress against their action plans and had them report on that progress via the collaboration portal.
  • We worked one-on-one with each participant to provide coaching between sessions.


We continued to use the collaboration portal after the program for up to 90 days to provide coaching to participants as they continued to apply their skills and to enable them to continue to connect with and support each other. As part of this post-program support, we included a variety of discussions on the portal for participants to respond to.

As part of the post-program work, each participant was asked to share the following each month:

  • A best practice they implemented
  • A challenge they had that they resolved (share what you did) or that they needed input to resolve
  • Progress toward their action plan

We also continued with virtual coaching.

At the 90 day mark (technically one year and 90 days after the start of the program), we launched part 2 of the 360 assessment to understand where the participants had improved in how they led their team and where further improvement was needed. Where further improvement was needed, we updated the action plan with the participant and continued to provide coaching for a period of time.

In summary – to engage employees in learning, it is essential to develop a strategy for how it will be done. You just can’t launch a strategic learning program and assume participants will be engaged – determine how you will engage them.

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