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March 13, 2012

The Sheep-Dipping Effect

You've got three weeks after a training event to achieve critical mass.

Imagine if you have a few thousand sheep and you are trying to control a medical outbreak. Your fastest way to deal with it is to create a medical bath and dip the sheep into it to control the disease. But if you have too many sheep to dip, they mix back into the herd and are re-infected before you can disinfect the remainder. You end up fighting a losing battle that you can never win.

Corporate change works the same way. If you have 100 employees to train and your training provider suggests doing groups of 12-15, covering one group every 2nd week, just remember to work out how long that cycle actually takes. Eight weeks is a long time when you have a three-week knowledge transfer window to consider.

Companies who invest thousands of dollars in training annually are at risk of wasting their investment if they cannot make new knowledge stick. Individuals sent on training courses who are exposed to new methods of working leave courses motivatet, with a desire to implement their new found wisdom on return to the office. Many are inspired by the person who lives and breaths what they have been shown and they cannot wait to get back to the office and show their colleagues.

So why is it that so many return from training courses and never implement the changes that they were raving about?

Knowledge retention from training courses is low. Only a small percentage of the course is actually absorbed into memory and we only have three weeks from receiving this information to start taking action. After this time the opportunity to create new habits from a learning program is greatly decreased, forgotten amidst the common challenges that returning employees face.

Individuals that were isolated on their course are doubly challenged, as they must first change their own habits, and then try to generate buy-in from everyone else. Training courses generate enthusiasm for change, motivation and impart a wealth of information that helps to make that happen. But in order to achieve maximum results from training courses we need to help our employees by dealing with common change management issues and providing support in the form of coaching and mentoring.

Our next article looks at how coaching and mentoring enable sustainable change.

Feel free to contact us to find out more about supporting your training initiatives through coaching and mentoring.

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