How to establish and enforce expectations for training & development
A successful corporate training program requires clearly defined expectations. These expectations are easy to uphold if the training is assigned to participants and carried out over a finite period of time (e.g. an onboarding period). But what if you have greater expectations? For instance, what if—like a lot of forward-thinking businesses—you’re trying to make training an active and ongoing part of the job? If you want the program to succeed, you need to establish and reinforce clear employee training expectations on a regular basis.
How to establish expectations
Before you can enforce the expectations, you have to define them. There are several steps involved here.
1. Make the expectations specific and actionable
You can’t expect employees to understand the expectations if you can’t clearly articulate them yourself. Have a clearly defined system in place that tangibly outlines both the expected procedures and results. For example, do you expect employees to complete one training lesson each day? Do you expect them to complete a module by a specific due date? Make sure the expectations are specific and actionable.
2. Ensure that training expectations are rigorous but not overwhelming
When establishing your expectations for training, remember that less is more. The human brain can only remember so much, so you don’t want to overload people with information. On average, people forget over half of what they learn within 20 minutes of learning it. The best way to combat this is to keep learning short, segmented and repetitive. The employee is constantly learning but never bogged down with information overload.
3. Strive for equity when establishing expectations
The same set of expectations might not work for every individual, every team or every department. The goal should be to create an equitable learning and development experience, even if that means devising more than one solution. For instance, some office-based departments might have time for more long-form training sessions while frontline workers might only have time for short microlearning lessons. Understand the complexities and challenges of different roles, and tailor your expectations accordingly.
4. Be open to employee feedback
As you begin to communicate and enforce the expectations, solicit feedback from the people responsible for meeting those goals. They’re going to have different perspectives that you might not have considered. Provide surveys, ask questions and don’t be afraid to adjust the training and development expectations if new insights necessitate a shift.
How to enforce employee training expectations
Defining the expectations is the easy part. The real trick is ensuring that everyone stays on target.
1. Make learning a priority
You must provide the training resources and time needed to foster continuous development. Expectations from the C-suite or L&D don’t matter if managers fail to prioritize ongoing development for their people. As an example of how to prioritize learning, a growing number of companies are implementing BYOD policies. By allowing employees to use their own mobile devices on the job, you make it easier for them to access digital training tools on the fly. This is one small but effective part of integrating training into the flow of work.
2. Communicate the expectations
Setting clear, actionable expectations is important, but once they’re are in place, it’s just as necessary to clearly communicate them and ensure that they’re understood. For instance, if you expect employees to log in to their training course and complete a digital lesson every day, you might provide training on how to use the learning management system and when to access it. Use post-training assessment questions to ensure that the trainee understands the expectations. If you want a particular training objective completed by a certain date, make sure to communicate that as well, and check in to ensure that deadlines remain on-task.
3. Start from day one
Expectations should be established as part of the onboarding process and should be reinforced regularly. It’s okay if expectations change over time, but the existing expectations should be communicated to employees right out of the gate in order to establish a foundation for the desired behaviors. Habits like daily digital training are unfamiliar to a lot of people, but employees are most eager to learn and adapt during the onboarding phase.
4. Establish a system that allows employees to satisfy expectations within the flow of work
For best results, opt for a mobile-friendly digital training solution that supports microlearning. If employees can log in to online training courses from the devices they already use and complete their training in five to 10 minutes a day (say, before clocking in), they’re much more likely to remain in line with the expectations. Your system should ideally be industry-specific, whether you need a grocery LMS, contact center LMS or retail LMS—and it should be easy to navigate.
5. Use positive reinforcement for training goals
Learners should have tangible incentives to complete their lessons. For instance, gamification has tremendous value for eLearning, which is why Axonify uses game mechanics like points, achievements and leaderboards to motivate people to stay on task and continuously improve. In addition, you might offer physical rewards for hitting important training milestones. Words of encouragement are also invaluable.
6. Hold everyone equally accountable
Expectations are only effective when people know they’re accountable. Keep track of who’s meeting expectations and who’s falling short, and act accordingly—starting with gentle reminders and coaching and advancing to more serious discipline if necessary. It’s also important to provide equal enforcement and accountability across the board. This is especially important when it comes to offering rewards or career advancement. If you let one team member cut in line or advance despite falling short of expectations, this may lead to resentment or undermine the importance of your expectations.
Turn training expectations into business outcomes
Training programs aren’t just about compliance and basic knowledge. Employee development strengthens businesses, fosters customer loyalty and turns good employees into great employees. It can reduce turnover and make you more competitive overall. That’s why it shouldn’t be neglected.
But effective employee development starts with setting and enforcing clear expectations. If you haven’t already done so, make those expectations a priority today and see the difference that it can make.