How to make training ‘stick’
Have you ever wondered why the training you get on some courses, however interesting and entertaining, doesn’t ‘stick’? How many course folders have you got gathering dust on your office shelves? And how much of the content can you recall, or more importantly, actually use, without opening the folder?
Of course, after some training, the learning does ‘stick’. What crucial skill or ability do you have now, that you know you learned on a training course? What distinguished the course which caused the learning to ‘stick’ for you?
What’s the key?
There are three critical elements:
- The information – the contents, facts, knowledge, tips and techniques.
- The experience or practice you do until the skill is second nature.
- The mindset shift that takes away the block that stops you using all that information.
If all three are in place, a course can cause remarkable and rapid changes in performance. Many courses, though, concentrate on the information and the experience, but miss the central role of mindset shift in transferring the learning back to the real world and, more importantly, retaining it over time.
It’s a principle well-known in sports psychology. Part of the training of a top sports player consists of physical drills, knowledge of the rules of the game, development of tactics and so on. The other, equally critical, work is done on the mindset of the player. For example, how does he/she feel about their opponent? There may be self-limiting beliefs such as:
- ‘I have never won at this venue’
- ‘You can never come from behind and win’
- ‘I’m not quite as fit as I should be’
Without explicitly surfacing, challenging and resolving these beliefs in training, the player, however skilled and fit, will never be truly confident and consistently win matches. It’s as if they are trying to play with their foot nailed to the floor!
How does it work in management training?
For example, there’s no real mystery to time management. Most people know the rules, which are some version of: ‘you list the things you have to do, prioritise the list, do the ‘A’ priority things first, and say no to all the rest’. Easy, right? Well no, because the world is full of people who have attended two, three, or even four time management courses! What they seem to be looking for is the magic ‘tip’ or ‘hint’ that will transform their time management forever. But there are no magic tips and hints; these are ‘information’, and will not make the critical difference to how you manage your time.
What’s needed, as with the sports player, is an exploration of your mindset – of where your ‘foot is nailed to the floor’. This is a very different type of training, targeted at exposing and exploring your beliefs, attitudes, values and ‘rules’ in life. The sorts of thoughts that stop people following the simple rules of time management set out above might be:
- ‘But what if I fail?
- ‘It’s got to be perfect every time
- ‘I can’t say ‘no’ to that person’
- ‘There’s just too much to do’
- ‘It’s impossible to hit that deadline’, and even..
- ‘But what if I succeed?’!
Thoughts like this need to be challenged and ‘reframed’ before it’s possible even to start to use the information content of the course.
Why is mindset-shift the key?
Very often, in modern large organisations, people have already received much of the basic skills training they need. They are just not using the knowledge and information they learned because their ‘foot is nailed to the floor’. After a training course centred round surfacing and resolving limiting or negative mindsets, they actually perceive the world differently. Things that seemed impossible before now look very different, and suddenly it is possible to apply all that knowledge and information in completely new, creative ways. The ‘nail’ is removed and suddenly those years of training become usable; remarkable changes in behaviour and outlook occur.
To make a truly lasting impact, training must be designed to challenge and shift the mindset of the course participants. Bear this in mind, and you will always be able to choose courses which are truly worth the time and money you invest in them.
Does your mindset hamper your performance?
Make training really ‘stick’