I do a lot of training, and I love it. A good training session is like a shot of adrenaline for me—it energizes me. And, if I’ve done my job well, the trainees have an enjoyable time and learn some key techniques. I think training is an essential investment in any organization’s quest for success. However, there’s a big difference between training and learning.
Many managers fall into the trap of thinking that a single training session can miraculously transform their team—whether cleaning, maintenance, or sales staff—into high-performing superstars. While some, in fact, do find a training session transformative, you should think of a training program as a foundation upon which to build. Many times, the big transformation occurs through post-training reinforcement. Let’s explore why post-training reinforcement is crucial and provide practical strategies for you to ensure your trainees genuinely absorb and apply the concepts learned in training—whether it’s mine, someone else’s, or your own.
The importance of post-training reinforcement
Training sessions are indeed valuable, as they should equip teams with new skills, knowledge, and strategies. However, a good training session can be an intense, information-packed event—and it can leave some participants overwhelmed. Even the most attentive learners can forget up to 70% of what they’ve learned within 24 hours of training, if the information is not reinforced properly. This is where post-training reinforcement comes into play.
Why you should reinforce information after training:
- Retention and application—The primary goal of any training is not just to impart knowledge but also to ensure that your staff can apply it effectively in their day-to-day activities. Post-training reinforcement helps solidify these concepts, making them stick. If your employees can’t repeat the techniques they’ve learned on the job and in front of your customers, they haven’t truly learned them.
- Profitable behavioral change—You have seen me use this phrase before, but it’s vital. Training often focuses on changing behaviors, and this transformation takes time. Reinforcement helps individuals shift from old habits to new, more effective, and more profitable ones. The word “habit” was used intentionally; when good skills become habitual, they are used in the field—and hence, become profitable.
- Adaptation to real-world scenarios—The cleaning industry is a dynamic field, and real-world situations can differ significantly from one training scenario to another. Remember, we deal with people, and people can present an infinite number of variables to face. Teach your team skills and ideas, not words. Good training teaches them to think. Post-training reinforcement enables them to adapt what they’ve learned to handle diverse situations effectively.
- Continuous improvement—Reinforcement promotes a culture of continuous learning and improvement. It keeps teams engaged and motivated to enhance their skills continually. When employees believe they are never done learning their craft, they do a better job. Don’t ever let them get stale.
How to effectively reinforce training:
- Regular coaching and feedback—Managers should perform regular one-on-one coaching sessions with their team members to view, assess, and discuss their progress. Remember—effective coaching means viewing them in real time, meaning that you have to get out of your office and share the field of battle with them. Once you do that, you have the credibility to provide constructive feedback and address the specific challenges you saw, and this helps solidify training concepts.
- Peer learning and knowledge sharing—Encourage your employees to share their experiences and insights with their peers. This collaborative approach fosters a learning community within the team and reinforces training concepts through discussions and real-world examples.
- Games and challenges—Introduce friendly competitions, challenges, or quizzes related to the training content. This not only makes learning more engaging but also helps your workers apply what they’ve learned in a fun yet competitive manner. At one of my previous sales management jobs, I used to carry $25 gift cards in my pocket. I’d catch a salesperson walking in the building, and I’d stop him or her and say something like, “What are two great questions to open a sales call?” or “What’s your elevator pitch,” etc. If the salesperson delivered a good response, he or she got a card. Instant reward!
- Microlearning—Break down training content into bite-sized, easily digestible modules. Deliver these mini-lessons periodically to reinforce key concepts and prevent information overload. For example, do an exercise to develop ONE question of a specific type. Rotate the topics appropriately.
- Role-playing exercises—I know, I know, nobody likes role-playing. So why do we do it? Because it works. Organize role-playing exercises that mimic real workday situations. The key to this type of role-play is to make sure your employees are implementing the lessons taught. My rule in role-playing is simple. I usually play the customer, and if the workers are implementing the lessons correctly, I’m a fairly easy customer. If not, I get tougher. Reward the behavior that you want, and you’ll get more of it.
- Performance metrics and goal setting—Set clear performance metrics and goals for your workers to track their progress. This helps align their efforts with the training objectives and motivates them to consistently apply what they’ve learned.
- Leverage technology—Use digital platforms and e-learning tools to facilitate ongoing learning and reinforcement. These platforms can provide interactive quizzes, resources, and reminders to keep training concepts fresh in the minds of the employees.
Remember that the goal is not just to have a training program, but to ensure that your trainees genuinely learn and apply the concepts taught to drive improved performance. With a consistent post-training reinforcement strategy, your team will be better equipped to do their jobs, allowing your business to gain more customers and keep the ones you have.