Forget the Forgetting Curve: How to Make Learning Last

Posted by Belinda Huckle  |  On February 19, 2020  |  In For HR/L&D Professionals

You’ve designed and delivered your training programme, and the early signs are that the learning was a success – but your job is not done yet! 

It’s now time to implement your training follow-up action plan to cement the learnings and ensure new behaviours, skills, tools and techniques are put into practise. 

Providing your staff with targeted post-training support is crucial to the overall effectiveness and sustainability of any L&D programme. Not only that but people can quickly become cynical about the value of training if it’s not backed up with opportunities to utilise the learnings and improve their skills.

So to help you effectively follow-up after your coaching or training programmes, here are our top recommendations to make corporate training make a lasting difference to your people and for your business.

1. Performance Support Centre

Woman learning on a laptop

In any training group, it’s likely you’ll have some participants who take detailed notes to refer back to later – and plenty who don’t. Having a post-training reference resource is an invaluable way to back-up what was learnt during the course and to remind people of the detail that was covered. 

This can be in the form of an online resource portal, skill enhancement tools, PDFs containing the key learning materials, coaching guides, links to websites, or a combination of these. Providing access to a range of options – for example, hard and soft copies of learning tools, and even video and audio content – allows you to cater for different learning styles. 

Make sure the resources are relevant and directly add value to what was covered in the training so that they reinforce or build on what was discussed during the course. 

2. Skills Extenders and Learning Refreshers

Access to learning resources is handy, but if your team are busy reading through a large amount of information might never actually reach the top of their to-do list. 

For time-pressed staff, breaking it up into short, sharp refreshers can be a more effective and manageable way to reinforce and extend on their knowledge.

A bite-sized way to present this is via a weekly email series (this is ideally something your corporate training partner should take the lead on). You can set it up as an email sequence that runs over a few weeks or months, with the aim to ‘remind-refresh-reinforce’. 

It’s best to keep it to a single tip per email, so make sure it’s impactful and focuses on the key takeaways.

3. Feedback and Check-in

Man training on a laptop

To gauge the LONG-TERM effectiveness of the training, on both an individual and collective basis, you’ll need to gather targeted, honest feedback from the participants. Immediate post-training feedback is important but it probably won’t test your training’s ROI. To do this you should consider gathering feedback 1, 6 and 12 months after the training. When requesting such feedback it’s important to get the approach right in order to give you the best chance of receiving meaningful responses.

A single open-ended question is ideal as it’s more likely the respondents will put some thought into their answers. Keeping it to one question will also mean they are more likely to complete the survey.  

Phrase the question in a way that will draw honest feedback on how they feel the training has helped them in their role, and if not, why not. This will provide invaluable insights for ensuring the future success of any programmes.

4. Learning Resources Reminder

Laerning via laptop

As the months go by, and things get busy, it’s also a good idea to provide employees with a gentle reminder to continue to utilise the post-training learning resources available to them. You could schedule this around 6 or 12 months on, and then again after 24 months.

Send all participants a simple email with a prompt to revisit the resources. Be sure to include any links and attachments in case they have been misplaced. You could also make reminder emails more powerful by adding a short example of how the learnings are being positively implemented by others across the organisation.

5. Remote Coaching

Remote learning and coaching

If the nature of the training programme allows, offering some form of complimentary online  coaching can have a huge impact. This can be via phone, video-call or email and should be made available for a generous, but set amount of time – 90 days is ideal.

In contrast to the generic resources, this provides employees with a way to build on their own understanding and knowledge in the areas that matter to them most. 

For example, for training focused on business presentation skills, someone may feel confident in their verbal delivery but struggle to create engaging slides. With one-on-one coaching and support they have an opportunity to dig deeper into the areas that will have the most impact on their personal performance.

6. Line Management Learning Debriefs

As an L&D professional, it’s likely you may not have the chance to observe the participants in their roles after the training to see the effect the new learnings are having. In this case, a phone call to the line manager can provide you with valuable insight on the impact the programme has had on the ground. They can describe how the learnings have made a difference, both in terms of bringing new efficiencies to the daily workflow and also in how they have built confidence and progressed the skills of their direct reports.

The Training Itself is Just the Beginning

While understandably lots of research, preparation, time and effort goes into creating and delivering your training programmes, in reality, this is only the first step. To make the investment in training sustainable and to see your ROI in action, you need a targeted follow-up plan to cement and build on the new knowledge, skills and behaviours.

So here’s a recap of our key recommendations after training: 

  • Keep the knowledge fresh, by giving participants the ability to easily access a variety of resources on demand 
  • Provide gentle reminders to keep the learnings front of mind
  • Be sure to gather feedback from participants and their managers to gain an understanding of what worked (and what didn’t) 

Taking the time to create and action your follow-up plan means both the participants and your business will gain the full benefit of the training, in both the short and long term.

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At SecondNature, we offer comprehensive, complimentary post-workshop support that includes – among other things – lifetime access to our Performance Support Centre and free follow-up coaching online. For nearly 20 years we have been the Business Presentation Skills Experts, training & coaching thousands of people in an A-Z of global blue-chip organisations. All our online programmes consist of live video-coaching modules, incorporating personalised feedback, advice and guidance to take business presenters further than any pre-recorded content ever can. To find out more, click on one of the buttons below:

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Belinda Huckle

Written By Belinda Huckle

Co-Founder & Managing Director

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Belinda is the Co-Founder and Managing Director of SecondNature International. With a determination to drive a paradigm shift in the delivery of presentation skills training both In-Person and Online, she is a strong advocate of a more personal and sustainable presentation skills training methodology.

Belinda believes that people don’t have to change who they are to be the presenter they want to be. So she developed a coaching approach that harnesses people’s unique personality to build their own authentic presentation style and personal brand.

She has helped to transform the presentation skills of people around the world in an A-Z of organisations including Amazon, BBC, Brother, BT, CocaCola, DHL, EE, ESRI, IpsosMORI, Heineken, MARS Inc., Moody’s, Moonpig, Nationwide, Pfizer, Publicis Groupe, Roche, Savills, Triumph and Walmart – to name just a few.

A total commitment to quality, service, your people and you.