A few of us in the management training business were talking the other day and I was asked, “What do you think is the biggest reason why many training programs don’t stick?”
Without hesitation, I said, “Follow up.”

As a good friend of mine who used to work with me once said, “After you train, you follow up. Then, you follow up some more, and then you follow up again until the training sticks.”

Any desired change in people’s behaviors will only happen if there is a consistent program of follow up after they have completed the training program. They will listen and understand training they are given, implement what was taught, and, during the days that follow, ride the high from the training session, focused on the changes and excitement in the air because they will see some results.  Soon, however, other things will come up that pull their focus away from their new behaviors. Slowly, they will drift back to the way they did things previously, and the results will slide back to where they were before they began their training program.

What is missing in most cases is a long term structure in which performance is monitored and new behaviors are consistently addressed, retrained, and people are held accountable. The need for follow up applies to all forms of training in any line of work.

The need for this type of follow up is even more apparent in a fast-paced environment like a call center/contact center environment. In call centers the behavioral change occurs over and over again throughout a typical day, so the need for it to stick is heightened.

In our management training seminar Coaching Skills for Improved Results, I have built the follow-up step right into the coaching process I teach. This way, follow up is not left to chance – it is scheduled. Think about it. After having gone through all the hard work of getting people to understand what needs to change, demonstrating for them how to perform the new behavior, and watching them perform it, why should you assume this new behavior would stay in place without following up?

If you want something to change, I strongly believe you need to follow up, and for that to happen you must schedule it.  During most work days many things can happen to pull a manager’s or supervisor’s focus away from following up on training so you need a structure you can rely on to ensure follow up happens and correct behavior is properly anchored.

The great thing about today is there is so much technology at your disposal to help remind you to follow up. There are alarms on your smart phones to set reminders for tasks, your computers have notes that pop up to remind you what needs to be done, and there is even the old fashioned sticky note on your computer you can look at each day.

Anything you can do to help remind yourself to follow up will make these changes stick that much sooner, it will become a new habit, and you will garner the benefits of improved performance.

Let me know your thoughts.