How to Reinforce Training So It Sticks

Shapiro Negotiations Institute

Ongoing training is important for employees to stay ahead of the curve and do their jobs effectively. But what about training reinforcement? One could argue that reinforcement may be as important as the training itself. After all, even the best training won’t mean much if there’s nothing done to reinforce it. But what’s the best way to make sure that employees retain what they’ve learned?

No magic bullet
When reinforcing what employees have learned, many managers seem to be seeking a magic bullet. This is a mistake because there is no such cure-all. Effective reinforcement is all about reminding attendees of the content covered within the training and holding them accountable for its application. And, you must have buy-in from the top. If VPs and managers aren’t supporting the initiative, the long-term impact will be lacking.

When it comes to reinforcement, one size doesn’t fit all. Everyone learns differently, so providing different methods of reinforcement is key. Some learners respond better to audio, while for others, video is the best method.

For organizations that supply everyone with a phone, having a custom application with all the pertinent information preloaded is a good way to go. For organizations with staff that is always in the office, mobile wouldn’t make sense – take advantage of their constant access to a computer. For example, for some groups email campaigns aren’t a thing of the past – weekly email campaigns are still used to help reinforce training in many organizations where this medium is cultural fit.

The larger the group, the more diverseit is, so providing multiple touch points for reinforcement can be even more effective. Many times, what attracts participation is whatever’s hot – mobile platforms are currently trendy, for example. While that seems sexy, in the end, it is important to use the platform and content that will be most effective – don’t lost sight of that.

Videotaping participants is also a powerful tool in reinforcement. For example, role play can be videotaped to ensure learners are grasping new information.

What about online reinforcement?
While training in person usually works best, using online reinforcement methods can sometimes be even more effective than in-person. Brainshark is an example of an online tool that can be accessed on a computer, tablet or smart phone, and shows aggregate and individual data.

With online reinforcement, you can track how much time participants spent on something, how many videos they watched,and so on. And after months of evaluating the data collected during online interaction, organizations can see where participants have spent the most time,what tools are being used and what’s most effective. Some of this information can be used to drive future training sessions and reinforcement.

Real-world tactics that work
Here are some practical examples of ways you can hold your team accountable:

  • If you tie the prep work to a CRM system, employees can’t hide whether or not they’ve completed it. But, make sure to incentivize them to use it or else they may resent it.
  • Have salespeople use a checklist for every transaction over a certain dollar amount.
  • Have managers attend the training first so that they buy-in, speak the same language, and can hold their teamsaccountable. They can then coach to what was presented in the training on a day-to-day basis.  
  • Create reinforcement campaigns based on the mediums participants already use. For example, if your sales force uses iPads for presentations in the field, develop a solution that allows them to access the content from their devices.
  • Make reinforcement consistent and frequent. These are two critical factors in making something habitual. For example, consider sending an email or text out every Wednesday morning with a tip. Just make sure everything you send is valuable.

 Try incorporating some of these methods into your training reinforcement to see if you achieve better results while also gaining insight into what areas might need more focus in your next round of training sessions.

Shapiro Negotiations Institute is a global performance improvement firm focused in the areas of sales, negotiation and influencing.