Last week, our anonymous ‘inside-the-department’ guest blogger began addressing an all-too-common problem when co-workers want to reduce a training intervention without considering the loss of impact. You can read that set-up post here.
Today, we give some concrete guidance on helping avoid this unfortunate behavior.
Here are seven ways to increase your chances of articulating training impact for success:
1. Have Solid Learning Objectives. Writing out the learning objectives ahead of time and stating them to your stakeholders helps keep the conversation on track when you feel like it’s being derailed.
2. Provide Visual Support. A one-page overview or chart with the learning objectives and linked solutions demonstrates you have thought out the plan and have a comprehensive learning solution. For example, the following might help in articulating impact with Sharon:
When Sharon asks you to ‘cut it down’, you can use a visual like this to demonstrate how removing one or more of these learning solutions will compromise the end goal. For example, if you remove part 3, then the representatives may be able to sell using the studies but may not come across to customers as being clinically oriented if they can’t communicate the impact of new treatment guidelines. If you remove part 4, you also remove the additional ‘positive pressure’ of a certification and subsequently some of the accountability of the learners. You also can’t measure the end result at that time. For even more impact, add a third column with the amount of time it will take each activity to run.
3. Shift versus cut. Sometimes Sharon agrees with you, but there really is a time constraint during a live meeting. Instead of cutting down the workshop, you could shift the certification to happen in the field post the live meeting. The impact is still positive, because you give the representatives more time to practice and internalize what they learned. The manager can then administer the certification during the next field visit and give personalized feedback in a one-on-one setting. Another way to shift is by moving some of the up-front workshop parts to be conducted via web or teleconference before arrival at the meeting. Then, the live workshop time stays protected while the learners still get what they need.
4. Provide options. While preparing for the discussion with Sharon, try to anticipate her reaction to the best case solution and prepare one or two alternate options to present. Make a list of the pros and cons to each, considering cost, time to develop, impact on the learner (less vs. more time off territory) because sometimes your best case solution isn’t possible due to time, travel, or money restrictions. By preparing options, you have already thought through how to address the possible shift in resources without compromising the impact. You might choose to present all your options up front, and then recommend one of them. This positions you as a trusted business advisor who is preparing the stakeholder to make an informed choice.
5. Practice. Communication skills are probably what helped get you to the role you are in now, so hone those skills by doing a few run-throughs for the presentation or discussion. Review your plans, anticipate the questions, and most importantly, practice talking through the pros and cons of each. Get a trusted audience or run by the solutions with other team members who know the person well. Oftentimes they think of additional aspects you may have missed.
6. Get support and tag team. If you are the new trainer, get your supervisor or an experienced trainer to accompany you for backup. If you are the leader with a team member going to a presentation like this, don’t let them fly solo. Discuss ahead of time how you can collaborate and participate – maybe they would like you to handle communicating the cons to some of the options while they handle the pros.
7. Project confidence. You can be the most prepared with the knowledge of the plans and the details, but if you exude confidence throughout the conversation, the positive impact can be huge. This may be easier said than done, since some of our stakeholders tend to hold higher level positions than us and can be intimidating. I’m always shocked to learn how trainers seem to believe they don’t have the right to be confident in front of a higher level stakeholder. As long as you have confidence with respect, it doesn’t matter what the title on their business card states. In fact, credibility points can be earned when you clearly state positive or negative impact, because it comes across as believing what you are stating is the right thing to do for the business.
Why is it so important to effectively state the impact of our solutions? On the downside, not doing so can mean a partial solution with inconsistent results, and that’s when training gets blamed. At the end of the day, if we agree to a partial solution we are the ones held accountable for the results. On the upside, stating the impact effectively can mean achieving the desired outcomes and success.
So, the question is – what do you do to articulate impact?
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