At Chronus, we’re all about success. That’s why we provide you with thought leadership articles about training, mentoring, and more. But we also believe in learning from mistakes. We asked Karen du Four des Champs, one of our subject matter experts and a training consultant who works across North America, about errors that companies make when designing their training programs. She shared a story about a company that had great intentions and learned a few lessons from a less-than-optimal roll-out experience.
This luxury company understood the value of training. But over the years, they put all of their training into their customer-facing employees. Meanwhile, back at their headquarters, office-based employees received nothing—no supervisory training, no leadership development, etc. Because of this, they were facing employee attrition, low morale, low engagement, and worst of all, they had no succession plan. Their baby boomers were going to retire in ten years and they had no one in line with the right skillset to take over.
The company decided to implement a leadership training program with a blended learning approach, and they did a fantastic job designing it. There were bite-sized classroom training programs, pre- and post-assessments, and action plans for implementing new knowledge. They also included embedded videos, on-the-job coaching, and they had a great action plan with SMART goals. But they made one key error: The training team expected the program to catch on throughout the company simply because it was so well designed.
Karen explained, “When you’re rolling out a program like this, you need key influencers and stakeholders to rally participation. If they did do relationship building with executives to gain buy-in, it didn’t show. So it was this great training initiative but it was like it was carried out in a corner. It wasn’t tied to strategic business results so the executive team didn’t see the potential ROI.”
On the first day, three people showed up. On the second day, six people. Then on the third, two people showed up. Because the employees didn’t have managers or key stakeholders evangelizing this great opportunity to their teams, very few people came. Karen said, “A training program has to be part of a strategic plan with buy-in from the top so that it’s successful.”
The company continued with this program for six months and through later publicity efforts, it did eventually become popular. But Karen believes the adoption was very slow to start due to the rough initial rollout. Out of the few people who came during the first six months, only one person emerged from the program ready to take on a leadership role.
A Lesson Learned
Great programs aren’t enough because companies need buy-in from the top down to make them truly successful. The easiest way to do this? Tie the programs into as many business results as possible, and demonstrate why they’re important to the future of the company.
To learn more about how to successfully design and roll out your own training program, download our ebook, Best Practices for Creating Effective Onboarding Programs.