I recently asked readers to submit their burning leadership development questions. Those that get picked for a post will receive a free copy of my eBook.This question from Sheryl:
“My staff and I have been trained on different communication and learning styles. How do we keep from falling into the same habits and keep what we’ve learned in use?”Great question, and good for Sheryl for recognizing what usually happens after being training in a new skill and wanting to proactively do something about it.
Here are 10 tips for making sure new habits stick after a training program:1. Practice, practice, and more practice. Try this: fold your arms the way your usually do. Unfold them. Now, fold them again, except this time, fold them the opposite of how you normally would. Feels pretty weird, doesn’t it? You really had to think about it.
Unfold them, and do it again. Still weird, but a little less, right?Repeat, 2-3 more times. Soon, you’ll be able to do it almost as fast, without having to think about it.
However, if I asked you to do it again tomorrow, chances are you’d be compelled to go back to your old way, and it would just as hard to fold them the new way.That little exercise illustrates how hard it is to change our “old habits”. It’s hard!
That’s why it’s always good to build in practice time in a training program, in a safe environment, to try out new skills. Then, you need to look for opportunities to practice at work and home, until it starts to feel natural. It takes time and perseverance – some say up to a year!2. Identify the benefits of changing (and the pitfalls). See Is that Development Goal Really Worth it? Taking the time to consider the implications of changing – or not changing – will help create the internal motivation, ownership, and commitment to change.
3. Establish goals and write them down. See The Power of a Written Individual Development Plan.4. Share your goals with others. There is power in making a “public declaration” – it helps hold you accountable. See Individual Development Plans (IDPs) Are Worthless….
5. Establish a daily follow-up and measurement mechanism. See How to Make sure you Achieve your 2014 Leadership Goals. I’ve tried this and it works!6. Schedule weekly, then monthly check-ins with your team. Share what’s working, what’s not, how to overcome barriers, etc… keep it alive – social reinforcement is powerful!
7. Share additional tips, articles, and best practices. Some training programs make these available for post-training reinforcement, and some offer newsletters and blogs that you can subscribe to.8. Do refresher training, or a “level 2” training.
9. Provide reinforcement. As the team’s leader, you can look for ways to reward effort and behavior change, and at the risk of sounding heavy-handed, make the new skills are a performance expectation. It’s a “carrot and stick” approach, and many would say ineffective – but I had to include it for the Aubrey Daniels fans out there.10. Create “job aids”. Kind of like crib sheet for your new skills – key steps, reminders, etc… It could be 3x5 laminated cards, screen savers, whatever.
How about other readers – any additional tips for making training and new skills stick?