Have you thought about how to involve the participants' managers in your training? Maybe you've already tried, but keep getting stuck? In this post, we highlight our lessons and tips on getting managers involved in their employees' post-training development.
It is well understood that getting managers involved can be an integral part of the success of training efforts. In Eduardo Sala's article "Transfer of training: What really matters in practice" there is no doubt about this. Although, the involvement of managers can be challenging this is not something that should be swept under the rug. Many of us in L&D have tried to involve managers in different ways, but are uncertain of the results and effects of it.
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Why we get stuck?
When we interviewed organizations about how they have tried to involve managers in training, we have encountered two main challenges:
- We want to be perfect! Which makes it easy to get stuck in planning a super solution. The constant planning, without feedback and progress, makes us lose motivation easily.
- At the same time, it is often difficult to determine what works and what does not. This affects the motivation to continue and the opportunity to decide what more should be done.
Trying to continually test small ideas and gather evidence instead of planning large projects with many assumptions is one of the cornerstones of agile development. Agile development is a proven process for producing rapid results with lower risk and costs. In organisational learning, educating staff faster provides our company with a competitive advantage. We know from working with people that it can be difficult to imagine in advance what works and what does not. Learning to test ideas cheap and fast helps us eliminate the guesswork.
Testing simple and fast
Testing to send an email to the participants' managers with a brief background of the training and tips on coaching questions was the first experiment we conducted linked to activating manager's. About 2 minutes after we sent the first email, we received the first answer: "Thank you so much for this, this is exactly what I need!". This gave us the confidence that we were on the right track and should keep going.
Do things that don’t scale
Some of you might be wondering just how sustainable is it to keep this going after every training. Well, the short answer is, it’s not, but that’s okay. This is often the reality in the beginning. Successful tech start-ups Air BnB and Pinterest applied this concept of doing things that don’t scale in their early days. By catering to a few customers in the beginning, they were able to learn what worked and didn’t fast. Once they had nailed a solution they would build it into a product capable of scaling to all their customers. Similarly in our experiment, after scaling became an issue, we decided to build this concept into our product.
Create a culture where it’s okay to fail
Caution: A pre-requisite of getting started with experimentation is accepting your ideas may not always work immediately. This is normal, so keep experimenting and learn from your mistakes. Therefore, make sure to foster an environment where it’s okay to fail and being wrong should be viewed as an opportunity to learn. It is believed that Edison made 1000 failed experiments at inventing the light bulb. Edisons response to this was "I didn't fail 1,000 times. The light bulb was an invention with 1,000 steps." "Great success is built on failure, frustration, even catastrophe."
Keen to try this experiment at your organisation? Be sure to let us know how it goes. This is one of our successful ones, so let us know if you want to hear about some of our failed attempts.