The major predictor of how well learning gets transferred into the workplace is the attitude of the learner’s boss” (T.T. Baldwin and J.K. Ford, Personnel Psychology)
However good the course, however effective the trainer, however keen the learner, if the boss is not ACTIVELY supporting both the learning and the transfer, then getting new skills applied in practice will be an uphill struggle.
So what can or should the line manager be doing – before, during, and after the course – to make the most of the training “spend”, and promote transfer of learning to the workplace, which is where it starts to pay back dividends?
We all “sell” all the time – it’s just, we usually only think of it as “selling” if money changes hands. Come to think of it, anyone who wants to influence someone else is in the business of selling for example, a leader in a corporate environment who wants to motivate others in a meeting to a certain course of action, a manager in the Fire & Rescue Service who needs to make a case to the boss, or an individual in the customer service “front line” who needs to placate or persuade the client.
So what are the core skill sets? Well the good news is that there are basically only two: putting your case together in a clear, organised and reasoned way, then expressing yourself persuasively so as to convince the other person (or people) that it’s a good idea. Of course, there are many techniques that go into each of these two basic skill sets, but these are the main considerations.
“How far do we want our line managers to take responsibility for growing our people? . . . In our organisation, is that part of the manager’s job?”
It is worthwhile every organisation (whether public or private sector) asking this question.
If we conclude that we want managers to take that responsibility, and that yes, it is part of a manager’s job to grow ‘the next generation,’ there are three steps to follow:
NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming) represents a practical toolkit for making goal setting, planning, decision-making, and all kinds of communication at work, stunningly more effective. Introduced to the UK from the States more than 25 years ago, much of the British business world thought of NLP initially as a bit “left field”, perhaps not very relevant to the operation of industry and commerce, or to the way people conduct themselves at work on an everyday basis.
They couldn’t have been more wrong. In many organisations, sales directors and sales managers were the first to recognise the potential of NLP for raising their game. Now, NLP is accepted as a fast-track skillset to help all functions of any business achieve more of what they want – ethically, and cost effectively.
1. Decide specifically who your participants will be, and list the things you want them to be able to do by the end of their learning process. This is much more useful as a basis for discussion and planning than simply a course or subject title.
2. Choose between three and five providers for an initial approach by telephone. A word of mouth recommendation from a colleague or associate is a good way to source providers, or of course you can research a few websites. Ask about their experience in delivering this type of training, and about fees. You can also ask them to send you sample programme outlines.
3. Interview two or three “shortlisted” providers personally, and ask how they can build and deliver the learning outcomes you want how long it will take, and how much it will cost. This will give you more relevant information, and will be a better test of the providers’ experience and capabilities, than simply asking them to “come and present what they can do”. Ask for a written proposal.
Now February is here, are your best intentions starting to crumble at the edges? Is your New Year determination disappearing and your motivation beginning to melt?
Revisit and re-boot your Resolutions using our 6 easy-fix tips below:
1. Did you make your goal specific?
A target of “improving my interpersonal skills” is vague – it’s hard to know where to start. More useful, for instance, might be “to start conversations with three new people each week”.
2. Is your goal achievable enough to be motivating?
Success is a real boost to keep you working at your resolution. An over-ambitious goal soon seems daunting or impossible and you are tempted to give up. If your ultimate goal is indeed ambitious and therefore long-term (3 months or more), break it down into separate milestones to achieve by the end of each month. Each milestone should be specific as above!
MLR Director, Margot McCleary, undertook a couple of trips to Shanghai, China earlier this year to train local trainers in delivering a three-day Selling Skills course for a key client.
Margot and four of the client’s bilingual facilitators worked with 24 participants to train them in the required sales techniques. The main sessions were delivered by Margot in English but with simultaneous translation in place. This was a new experience for Margot and, although challenging at times, this type of work deems very rewarding. Many of the exercises and activities were set up and conducted by the facilitators.