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Helping Learners Build Confidence

A few months ago I was meeting with a client for lunch and we were discussing challenges he was having within the training department. He told me that his biggest challenge is getting the employees who take training to apply the skills back on the job. And it wasn’t the usual problem – managers who wouldn’t let them do so or training not aligned to goals. The issue was in the training program itself.

A simple survey out to employees who had taken training classes within the last year showed us the following:

While the participants enjoyed the training programs overall, they were not confident enough after the training to be able to apply the skills they were learning back on the job. They acknowledged in the survey that their immediate supervisors were supportive of training and consistently tried to get them to use their new skills (in one case a respondent to the survey noted her supervisor told her he would extend the time she had to complete a project so she could use her newly learned skills.)

A follow face-to-face meeting with a representative group of respondents to the survey showed us that they didn’t feel comfortable nor confident in their ability to apply what they were learning in the classroom back on the job. While they felt that they learned new skills, they were not able to practice those skills in the classroom and were therefore afraid to try them out back on the job where they may not be successful.
A review of the courses offered showed us that while there were activities, case studies and team work in the classroom, they were not directly linked to the employees’ roles and responsibilities. Therefore, employees couldn’t easily make a connection between what they learned in the classroom and how to apply those skills back on the job – which caused a lack of confidence in their abilities and a discomfort in trying something new in a situation where it would count (on a real project).

What will be done? The courses were pulled temporarily (they will be back up in 6 months) so that they could be evaluated against goals and objectives of the various business units (whose employees were attending these training classes) and that activities, case studies and team work will be developed that align to those goals and objectives. By ensuring that such activities are related to what the employees work on every day in their jobs, the comfort level and confidence in their ability to apply those new skills back on the job will increase.

What are you doing in your training programs to ensure that employees are actually getting something out of them? Have you gauged the level of confidence and comfort of your employees who attend training as it relates to applying those skills back on the job?

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