Improve Employee Training: 4 Tips to Make Behavior Change Stick / HR Solutions / Last Modified: February 22, 2017

Our experience shows that for these plans to be successful, they need to fit with the learning environment, with the nature of the work...

A successful behavior change initiative for your small business is effective only when it creates impactful, lasting change. Despite the tremendous amount of time and money that organizations invest in such campaigns each year, research by The Forum Corp., a Boston-based training and development organization, shows that only 14 percent of behavior change initiatives actually stick.

Traditionally, organizational learning and development interventions have focused on the visible, concrete, "main event" components of learning:

  • Virtual or face-to-face programs
  • Workshops that introduce new concepts, skills, tools, and behaviors

Related:Do Your Employees Retain Their Training? Probably Not

However, a significant component of the learning intervention-the ongoing sustainment and reinforcement of the new knowledge and behaviors-is often neglected or overlooked. Failing to sustain and reinforce desired behavior changes will result in a less-than-full yield.

In terms of learning, this means that employees won't retain the knowledge learned, will fail to act in new ways and, ultimately, will not master and apply new behaviors.

Related: Improve your techniques; hire one of our hand-picked business coaches

Our experience shows that for these plans to be successful, they need to fit with the learning environment, with the nature of the work and with the work styles and capabilities of the target audience. We call our approach the "See It, Need It, Do It, Live It Model," which we break into the following four activity groups. How do you ensure that behavior change efforts are sustained in your organization? Will you consider adopting the "See It, Need It, Do It, Live It" Model?

  1. Examples. "See It" (Demonstrate What Success Looks Like): Activities in this group help employees see and know what they should be applying back on the job. These activities demonstrate and show people what successful application of the behaviors looks like. They provide relevant and regular examples, in a structured way, over time, to help employees see clearly what it looks and feels like to successfully master the new behaviors and tools.
  2. Assessments. "Need It" (Rate Current Performance): Assessment activities uncover gaps in performance and opportunities for improvement. These activities allow the employees, line manager, coach, and organization to rate current performance and then use the feedback to establish and/or update improvement goals.
  3. Opportunities. "Do It" (Deliberate Practice Drills): Deliberate practice is at the heart of behavior change. Opportunities for application of new skills and tools don't have to amount to "10,000 hours," but they do need to be more significant than a couple of notes in an action plan at the end of a formal workshop or e-learning event. The nature of the work determines to what extent deliberate practice needs to be in a safe or simulated environment or whether practice drills can be done on the job.
  4. Supports. "Live It" (Affirm and Encourage Yourself and Others): Activities in this group include significant catalysts for change. Affirmation and encouragement are often underrated, but have been shown to be highly significant in helping people to make a change in behavior and move through any short-term performance dip on the way to lasting performance improvement.


Bio: Abby Smithblogs for The Forum Corporation. Find them on Twitter and Facebook.


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