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training classTelling an employee they must attend a training class, sets up an immediate barrier to learning. Yes, you want them there but you’re far better off enticing their attendance and here’s why…and even HOW to set them up for greater success.

Top Performers Typically Like to be in Control

Those who are top performers, or your best employees, will often gravitate toward things over which they can maintain control. Tell them they HAVE to do something and what may go on in their head is something like “You’re not my momma, make me!” Even if they don’t say it to your face, there’s an inkling of it in their thoughts and it’s those thoughts that create a barrier the trainer must overcome before they can get any learning through. To give those employees the control they seek,give them a choice of one class or another. Give them a catalogue and let them choose the time and date of class that works with their schedule.

Interest is Derived from Input

You’ve heard the adage “we don’t argue with our own data”. Thus, giving an employee a chance to provide input about the training they need or want, creates more interest in the class they CHOOSE to attend. That interest creates a desire to learn more about the topic, increases retention, and impacts if and how long they use the information. However, even in the case of a mandatory training edict for topics such as Sexual Harassment or Anti-Trust regulations, have a conversation with the employee ahead of time and ask them what specific information they could be looking for in that class that would be relevant to their position. For example, perhaps not solely topic focused, but employee focused: that long time top performer who has seen this class a dozen times, may find it more interesting if their purpose for going is to set the example for the new team members and strengthen their role as a mentor by showing up and being respectful of the company’s interest or need to provide this information.

Putting Up With is Not the Same as Putting Effort Into

Years of childhood conditioning have taught  any adult to put up with something they don’t like, that they were told to do “because I said so”. The truth is you don’t want them to endure the training. You want them to learn from it and maybe even enjoy the process. Actions put into place from a state of resistance or that they are complaining about while doing, will never be performed as well as those actions they are excited to implement. When you “have to” to do something, you can justify doing it halfway just to get it done. When you WANT to do something you’ll put forth more effort to ensure it’s done well so that you reap the benefit.

There’s really no benefit to the team, the organization, the leader, or the company to conduct training that everyone is complaining about. Lead that effort as well as you lead the team and discuss with your training provider how to market the class or programs in a way that garners interest. In fact, if you have to mandate that they all go, it’s possible, the course you’ve chosen isn’t addressing the real issue and it may be time to reevaluate the need and what you’re providing to help them succeed.


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