Training to Drive Change

Are you considering using training as a good tool to drive change, and wondering if it really is worth the time and money?

A change process first of all requires management endorsement and continuous communication. In addition, training may be a good tool. Based on 10 years of experience with international companies on changes in mindsets, knowledge, processes and systems, three key success criteria have emerged. With these in place, you will normally pick-up and overcome all smaller challenges, which may occur in the change process.

As a manager it is best to 1. Take Ownership; 2. Define what Success looks like – and follow-up on it; and 3. Lead by Example.

1.    Take Ownership for the Change.

In a recent talk by Emma Watson, the actor and UN ambassador, she reflected on who was responsible for changing our world for the better. She asked: “If not me, then who?”. As a manager wanting to improve performance or create changes in your team, you should ask yourself the same question.

A FMCG company recently wanted all Sales & Marketing teams to change the focus from customer volume to customer profit, i.e. customers should be prioritized by potential profit not by current volume. This had a huge impact on which customers to visit; whom to service; and where to spend the marketing budget. A training program was developed to initiate the change in mindset, as well as to introduce some tools facilitating the new way of working. The training was rolled out to 20 countries. Most countries chose to stick closely to the training program, using an external facilitator who was very well received by the audience. A few countries decided to change the training and tools slightly to fit their team better. Some countries chose to run all or part of the training themselves, mainly due to lack of funds for the external facilitator.

When evaluating change impact, the countries who had run the training themselves or changed the content saw a much bigger impact than the countries using the standard training. In these countries, management had evaluated the content, made sure it fit into their processes and taken ownership. They had driven a discussion with their team on why the change was necessary and how to go about it – whether they showed all the exact slides from the training did not matter, in fact, their own examples had much more impact on their team than any generic training or external trainer could ever have.

2.    Aim for Results

Know What You Want To Achieve

Do you want people to be positive towards a new idea, remember some key facts, or to be able to do a specific task? Each step takes time, and each piece is trained differently. Motivating a change or introducing a new mindset requires inspiration, convincing arguments, and discussions for the team to reach their own conclusions. In comparison, to be able to remember how to do a specific task you ideally need hands on experience through (repetitive) exercises.

Training is just one Step

A training session is only 40% or less of installing a new mindset or routine. 20-40% is preparation – in performance discussions, team meetings, training pre-work; and 40% is follow-up – finalization of exercises, discussions with the manager, and follow-up questions to resolve questions.

Follow-up on Results

Follow-up allows you to pick-up smaller issues or questions, as well as summarize the status of the change process to management. A good evaluation method for training is “Kirkpatrick’s evaluation model”, which measures the Reaction, Learning, Behavior and Results of the training.

The Reaction is just the immediate mood after the training e.g. “Did you like the training”. More important are the KPIs followed-up in the subsequent months on knowledge, behavior and results. For example: If you introduced and trained in a new campaign tool, your measurements may be:

a) Testing whether they remember the key concepts (improved knowledge?)

b) KPIs on % logged in, and number of campaigns set up (changed behavior?)

c) Campaign KPIs (improved results?)

3. “Walk the walk, and Talk the talk”

If you want to see a change in your team – ranging from a change in attitude to implementation of a new behavior – you must lead the way. Not only does it exemplify the wanted behavior, it also signals that you truly believe in it, and you will be reinforcing the new behavior in all future interactions.

I have seen many examples of managers who dutifully have forwarded requests to the team, e.g. following a new process or asking the team to participate in training on the process, yet are too busy themselves to join the training and do not have time to start using the new process. In these cases, the training is ineffective as the manager does not have the knowledge (or motivation) to follow-up on issues or usage.

In a recent CRM system implementation in a global travel company, all sales managers were asked to introduce the CRM tool in their team. In the subsidiaries where the manager had moved to the new system, the whole team actively used the system. However, in the subsidiaries where management were not yet using the system, the team had no incentive to embark on the change process. In these countries, team members actually found it double work to input data into the new CRM system, while still reporting customer results to their manager via email and they soon realized that their manager had no insight into whether they used the system or not, and abandoned the use.

Julie Olsson Blou has worked with Commercial Development and training for the past 13 years. She has a background with Accenture Management Consulting and Emirates Airlines. She currently works with INHOCO – International Hospitality Consulting, which consists of a group of experts with more than 200 years of experience in Hospitality Management, covering the complete spectrum of Hospitality needs from brand creation and acquisition to HR and asset management.

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