Why do we train staff when we know nothing will change?

It’s about the HOW, not the WHAT

Photo taken at a Peer Training Session on 9 January 2018

When you are asked to describe what you see in the picture accompanying this article, you may be transported back to a recent course you attended. Depending on the energy and competence of the facilitator, you will also probably remember some of the exciting role plays or exercises that took place to the day.  The kicker …. if the course in question took place more than 6 weeks ago you will be hard pressed to recall the actual details of the course content and you have probably reverted back to your old way of doing things anyway. Now don’t go on a guilt trip just yet – you are not unique in this area.

Research shows, that without reinforcement or coaching, 87% of what we learn during training is forgotten in 6 weeks.

Now obviously as an owner of Training Company and an education professional, I am obviously shooting myself in the foot by sharing this dirty little secret. But before you rush off to cut the training budget, I should emphasise that if you want to see growth in your organisation, developing and training your staff  is not optional, it’s a necessity. However, if you want to see lasting results and return on investment, the way you implement your training programme is where the magic happens.

This brings me back to the photo – Lerato who is standing in front of the class is not a trained facilitator. She is one of a 120 supervisors who have attended a SETA accredited course in Customer Service. Her organisation is serious about staying ahead of the game and have implemented a Customer Centricity Development Programme. Understanding the importance and the urgency of training in the area of Customer Service, and based on past experience, they decided to do things differently this time around. They implemented a two pronged approach to training – it’s a combination of traditional training paired with a reinforcement and coaching system that is owned and run by the employees.

Lerato is a member of what is known as a Peer Team, made up of 6 supervisors, and she is facilitating a 2.5 hour session on Communication Skills – which was one of the learning outcomes of the Customer Service Course they attended a month ago. During this session she will be reinforcing the learning and her team will be participating in role plays and exercises that she has prepared for the session. Lerato and her colleagues are Peer Coaches. On a monthly basis, each member of the Peer Team will be facilitating a different topic that links back to what they learnt during the training they underwent. More importantly, they will also be setting up Peer Teams in their respective work departments to ensure that learning is cascaded down throughout the organisation.

Lerato and her fellow supervisors have all attended a certified Peer Training Course, where they have been given the tools to run Peer Sessions independently.  They take ownership of their development and do not need to rely on the Learning and Development Department to set up training days to reinforce learning or introduce a new system to their subordinates. As part of the Peer Training System they have also been given the tools to develop and measure targets related to the learning areas.

The benefits of implementing such a programme across an organisation include:

  • Dramatically reduced training costs
  • Clear measurements of success
  • Employee ownership of organisational goals and initiatives
  • Evidence of accountability and cooperation
  • Steady increases in leadership and interpersonal skills

The Peer Training Programme was initially developed and licensed by Cy Charney and Associates in Canada. If the name rings a bell, Cy Charney is also the author of a number of books, including a very nifty book: The Instant Manager. The license holder for this programme in southern Africa is The Peer Training Group.  They have a solid track record and have been implementing and running Peer to Peer Learning Programmes since the 1990s. They also have an impressive list of clients who have implemented the programme and experienced results.

You can learn more about Peer Training at http://mypeergroup.com/peer-training/

When it comes to training we could probably carry on doing what we’ve done before and get the results we have always gotten.  You get to tick the necessary boxes and everyone is generally happy (perhaps ‘happy’ is a strong word but everyone will be satisfied that training is happening).   If we want to move from good to great, then perhaps it is the perfect time to look at alternatives and Peer Training may just be what you have been looking for!

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