Corporate Training Trends 2020 – What’s Really Worth Your Investment?

As the end of 2019 approaches, budgets are being finalized and sales quotas are being established for the new year. Have you accounted for the cost of employee training in your 2020 budget? Some employers may be tempted to push employee training to the side of their business-centric priorities, but you may want to think again…

At Unboxed Training & Technology, our goal is to provide you with any recent corporate training trends with actionable ways to apply these new industry insights to your company or team. A diverse client base gives us a well-rounded view of the L&D space to share what we expect to see as corporate training trends in 2020.

Based on what we’re seeing with our clients, and in the L&D industry overall, we have compiled the top four future trends in training and development that you need to know for the upcoming year. But before we jump into the trends, let’s take a look at the corporate training landscape as a whole.

The Future of Corporate Learning

According to SHRM’s Skills Gap 2019 research, 75% of HR professionals say there is a shortage of skills in candidates for job openings. One of the “most effective remedies” mentioned in the report for this growing skills gap is to improve employee retention rates

Research has shown that employee training and development actually reduces employee turnover. The question is, do you believe it?

Take notes from Amazon. Earlier this year, Amazon announced a $700 million investment in employee training programsWe think it’s important to invest in our employees, and to help them gain new skills and create more professional options for themselves,” said Beth Galetti, senior vice president of HR.

Every year, corporate training trends evolve–but the value of employee training never changes. Use these corporate training trends to guide your training process whether you are onboarding new hires or upskilling current employees. The future of L&D starts inside your organization, today.

 

Top 4 Learning and Development Trends in 2020

Companies like Amazon understand the necessity of employee training and development–not only for new employees–but as an ongoing investment in current employees. Whether you invest $7,000 or $700 million, effective training is always advantageous to the business. A recent study, noted by Spotio, concluded that “every dollar invested in sales training returned $29 in incremental revenues.

Now it’s time to talk about what you don’t know (but should) about workplace learning and employee development.

 

Trend #1: Actionable Coaching

Research has shown that coaching is the number one competency that distinguishes average managers from highly effective managers. Actionable coaching is more than giving advice; it provides employees with constructive feedback, sets actionable goals, and develops a more efficient workforce.

As a manager, it’s not enough to say, “You didn’t do that right. Try again.” Managers must actively engage with employees to identify strong competencies and development gaps. For example, actionable coaching can turn a sales pitch tragedy into a training opportunity by creating a plan of action:

  1. Identify what part of the sales pitch or goal an employee missed.
  2. Explain the correct behavior or action expected and resource them with specific training material.
  3. Form a plan of action moving forward to train in weak areas and fill in knowledge gaps:
    • Brush up on product or service knowledge.
    • Review the messaging strategy.
    • Practice the pitch by role-playing with a colleague or mentor.
    • Set a completion date.

Coaches, how do you currently track your coaching engagements and employee observations?

In response to the need for better coaching tools to make actionable coaching more intuitive and effective, we’ve developed an easy-to-use mobile app that walks coaches through an observation flow and captures key data points. Here’s how it works:

  • Observe behaviors by taking coaches through a guided observation flow.
  • Capture information in the moment to keep coaches focused on the person in front of them.
  • Easily track and record detailed notes.
  • Provide feedback on strengths and opportunities.
  • Assist in creating SMART goals for tangible results.
  • Save documentation time.

If you aren’t observing, you can’t coach. Start tracking performance, skill progression, and providing constructive feedback to empower employees to make actionable changes.

 

Trend #2: 360 Certification

How do you know when your new hires are ready to be customer-facing?

At what point does your onboarding process transition new employees to executing responsibilities on their own?

How do you certify that your sales reps are ready to pitch prospects?

What guardrails can you put in place to ensure the best results?

We’re long past the point of a certification exam or a series of inconsistent classes being enough to guarantee readiness, let alone success. The future of corporate learning lends itself toward a 360 degree view of certification.

360 degree certification is holistic in nature. Begin by identifying a threshold that learners must meet before they are considered “certified.” Be sure to choose inputs that train and test on knowledge, skills, and behavior.

Then, use your Learning Management System (LMS) to create a unique formula of weighted inputs to automate the employee certification process. Inputs might include some or all of the following activities:

  • In-person training event
  • Video roleplay
  • Coaching session or observation
  • Mini knowledge checks
  • Action learning projects

The list could go on, but each input is used in combination with the others to collectively “certify” your rep.

Don’t stop at a one-time certification. Employee training is an ongoing process that continues well after onboarding has completed. Track employee training and recertify reps with refresher courses at various checkpoints in their careers to ensure knowledge retention over time. Reimagine how this will transform what “customer readiness” means for new hires and veteran employees.

The goal is to have employees cross-trained in everything from hard skills to soft skills throughout their career. This full-circle method of certification gives managers and employees a 360 degree view of what they are proficient in and where they need to improve.

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The start of every new year is a chance to revisit training goals and aspirations for the coming 12 months. How do you know what’s worth your investment?

Trend #3: More Innovative Event Management

Are you using your LMS to its full potential by engaging, training, and assessing learners? Stop using your LMS as a repository for training and resources that aren’t being used anymore. An LMS that is being used effectively is an integral part of an employee’s work day.

Leverage your learning platform to pulse engaging pre-work, drive community traffic, and gamify training events with ongoing opportunities to earn points and rewards. Integrate your LMS across the organization to support business objectives and scale up your workforce.

 

Engage with Pre-Work

Pre-work should make a meeting, virtual instructor-led employee training (VILT), or webinar more valuable for both the attendees and the presenter. Take advantage of an LMS, like Spoke® LMS, to manage and engage attendees at your event. Reimagine pre-work as fun, engaging, and effective rather than just busywork:

  • Send out learning expectations and resource guides early to prepare learners.
  • Build assessments for learners to take beforehand to help gauge the audience.
  • Make pre-work visually stimulating with images, graphs, and multimedia.
  • Have some fun by using games to award points or prizes to those who complete pre-work.
  • Schedule email reminders to send out right before the session for optimal attendance.

Encourage learners to come with answers, questions, and comments so they participate in the conversation. Use engaging content that builds interest and promotes interaction among attendees.

Gamify Training Events

Games in training is one of those learning trends that will only get more influential every year. Use games and gamification at events to educate, improve the experience, fight disengagement, as well as create an environment of collaboration and healthy competition.

For example, a pharmaceutical national sales meeting is a great opportunity to implement games and gamification into an event. Use an LMS to award points or badges for various activities in order for participants to win a grand prize:

  • Attending different sessions.
  • Tweeting what they learned using an event branded hashtag.
  • Sharing photos on social media and tagging the company.
  • Networking with other attendees by exchanging business cards.
  • Collecting items from various booths.

Have games and gamification made it into your 2020 event plans?

Disengaged attendees are the bane of any event’s existence, in-person or virtual. Craft a learning culture that motivates and engages employees with the help of an LMS. Think Outside™ the box for your next corporate event!

 

Trend #4: Personalized Learning through AI

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is no stranger to L&D or the world at this point. We talked about AI last year in our 2019 training trends blog, and it’s not going anywhere.

We interact with AI every day to make our lives easier. Google, Facebook, and Instagram all use AI-based algorithms to provide us with relevant information and ads to deliver a better user experience. Yet, in the workplace, AI is still severely underutilized.

AI At Work, a study conducted by Oracle and Future Workplace, discovered only 6% of HR professionals are currently using AI at work. Although, HR leaders believe AI will positively impact both L&D (27%) and performance management (26%) over the next two years. Both HR leaders and employees agree that the biggest impact AI will have on organizations is increased productivity.

AI caters to the individual who is handling it, fitting exclusively to the needs of each user. When AI is implemented into an LMS, it creates a personalized learning environment that becomes more intelligent over time. AI can improve employees’ learning experiences in many ways, but here are a few to consider:

  • Identify knowledge gaps in training then recommend the program(s) needed to strengthen that particular area.
  • Create a personalized course path using a blended learning approach and selecting the right modality for training content.
  • Measure training effectiveness through facial recognition to track what is being practically applied on the field as mentioned in our #4 trend for 2019.

The future of AI in the L&D space is limitless. If you don’t start adopting AI technology into your corporate training now, you’ll be limiting the potential of your business and employees later. Don’t get left behind.

 

2020 Training Trends Recap

L&D is constantly evolving with new technology and research used to improve the modern learner’s experience. Let’s recap our 2020 training trends:

  • Actionable coaching for actionable results. Don’t just manage employees. Use tech tools to coach employees with a plan of action that assesses their progress and improves performance.
  • 360 degree certification. Give your sales reps a full-circle onboarding experience using multiple methods of input so they are truly customer ready.
  • Use LMS for more innovative events. Engage employees at events with value-added pre-work and use both games and gamification to encourage participation, as well as collaboration.
  • Adopt AI for personalized learning. Use smart technology to support your training efforts. Start embracing AI in 2020; 93% of employees already say they would trust orders from a robot.

Need help implementing these new corporate training trends? Let our L&D professionals help you prepare for the future of work. Schedule your free training consultation today!

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Comprehensive New Employee Onboarding Checklist

Creating an employee onboarding program is no small task. Finding the right employee, to begin with, is only half the battle. Once a new hire joins the team, it’s all hands on deck. Onboarding sets the tone for new employees as they start their new careers at your company. To properly equip employees for various job functions, a comprehensive onboarding process needs to be in place prior to the hire.

The Onboarding Process

Effective onboarding is the key to long term employee retention. Those first few days and months on the job determine how engaged, educated, and confident new employees are in their new positions. Studies have shown that up to 20% of new employees quit within their first 45 days on the job. The real cost of employee turnover can be up to 150% of an annual salary, so investing in a comprehensive onboarding program is worth its weight in gold.

The onboarding process is more than administrative paperwork; it’s a personal handshake from the organization to a new hire. Onboarding is a useful tool to assimilate new employees into the organization by providing a big-picture overview, down to the small details of day-to-day expectations.

New employees need an introduction to the company culture, history, mission, values, strategic goals, while also getting role-specific training. All things considered, when new employee onboarding does its job, the result benefits both the employee experience and the organization overall.

Employee Onboarding Software

As noted in the ADP 2016 Employee Engagement Study, only 12% of employees strongly agree their organization does a great job of onboarding new employees. Streamline the onboarding process to ensure your employees are well-equipped for the work ahead with a robust, employee onboarding software.

At Unboxed Training & Technology, we customize onboarding programs to mirror your company culture and increase retention by using real-life scenarios for practical application. Effective onboarding uses the right blend of eLearning, interactive workbooks, classroom training, and reinforcement to turn new hires into high performers, no matter their learning style.

Employee onboarding programs directly affect employee experience being an initial touchpoint for new hires of the organization. Is your employee onboarding software getting the job done? A word to the wise: Health check your onboarding before a new hire tries to learn their job on a subpar program…

New Employee Onboarding Checklist

Does your onboarding start with the basics and keep building? Evaluate your current employee onboarding to see how it measures up. The Essential Employee Onboarding Checklist provides a comprehensive overview of 40+ topics to make sure your new employees are set up for success. We’ve listed five of the main sections below to give you a sneak peek of the content:

employee onboarding training checklist ipad

Organizational Basics

Being basic isn’t always bad. Some information will be standard across the board for all employees to learn; we call this the “Organizational Basics.” New employees usually have little to no context on the company history and need to be informed on the foundational pieces of the business (i.e., mission, vision, company structure, unique value proposition, etc.).

Are you laying a solid foundation for employees at the beginning of the onboarding process before they jump into the more technical aspects of their job?

Human Resources

Time for the company policies. Human resources (HR) help employees grow with the organization by managing expectations, offering career development opportunities, and relaying the company culture in an engaging, inclusive way. Set goals at the beginning with HR to track progress, overall performance, and future promotions.

Is your onboarding program set up to help your employees thrive within the organization?

Meet the Team

Your onboarding program should be personal and involve humans. Onboarding should encourage each employee as a vital, valued player on the company team. As a new player on the team, new hires need to know what position they are playing, what responsibilities they have, and how their role supports organizational goals.

Have you built in face-to-face time in your onboarding process for new hires to socialize cross-functionality?

Role Specific Training

You don’t know what you don’t know. Give new employees the tools and training they need to perform their jobs with excellence. Role-specific training is a mixture of on-the-job learning experience and company provided knowledge bases. Personalize onboarding training to prepare new employees for their specific position in an efficient manner to make them valuable contributors.

Are you providing new employees with everything they need to succeed in their new role?

Measure the Effectiveness of Onboarding

If you don’t measure your onboarding, how do you know it’s working? According to the SHRM 2017 Human Capital Benchmarking Report, the average employee turnover rate was 18% in 2016. When an employee’s job description and on-the-job duties are significantly different, a 2-week notice is likely ready to send in their drafts folder.

Assess employees’ experience with your onboarding process at regular intervals in the same way you would schedule an employee performance review (30, 60, 90 days, etc.). Stay proactive and continually refine your onboarding process with the insight you gain from employee feedback.

How effective is your new employee onboarding program?

Create The Best Employee Onboarding Experiences

Onboarding doesn’t stop once the employee sits at their desk and watches a few videos. New hires will only be “new” for a short period, but onboarding is an ongoing process. Some onboarding programs can take up to two years, depending on the position. The best employee onboarding keeps investing time and resources into new employees until they are productive, valuable assets to the organization.

Are you ready to health check your employee onboarding program? For each checklist item, ask yourself, “How does my current onboarding training stack up?” Then, let us know how you scored so we can help your employees reach their A-game faster!

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How to Track Employee Training

Human capital is by far the most valuable asset to most any business. Although an intangible asset, people are a critical component to a business functioning at optimum capacity. People are part of the profit equation, and to make money, you have to spend money. Employees impact customer satisfaction, sales goals, ongoing innovation, company culture, etc. But, in most cases, employees are only as good as they are trained to be. Employee training is an opportunity for businesses to increase the value of their human capital. An employee training tracker is a key component to the training equation because it helps you identify if your employee training is directly increasing employee performance.

Furthermore, investing in employee training is important for the long term growth and success of a healthy business. So you’re probably thinking, “I agree, but how do I know if what I’m investing in is paying off?” We see where you’re coming from. Implementing an employee training plan usually starts with a learning management system (LMS).

Let’s talk about how an LMS transforms and tracks employee training today…

Employee Training Tracking Software

Training employees and tracking their progress is essential to properly evaluate what’s working, what information is not being retained, and what may need to change. To put things in perspective, up to 40% of employees who don’t receive adequate job training quit within the first year. Onboarding is no cheap investment, so when a new hire is made, that employee needs to be set up for success with well-defined job training.

Spoke® LMS

 

Spoke logo

Time for practical advice: The best way to track employee training is with an LMS.  Employee training tracking software, provided by an LMS, helps you collect, deliver, and track your company’s training content. Spoke® LMS is an award-winning, social LMS for the mobile workforce utilizing gamification to engage employees in training.

 

Assessment Builder

To understand the ROI of training, it needs to be accurately tracked. Tests, quizzes, and assessments are all ways for administrators and employees to identify areas for improvement. Spoke’s Assessment Builder is a useful, employee training tracker for both learners and admins to evaluate knowledge retention. 

Easily create assessments, track progress, and note trends to refine your training over time. Additionally, employees have the ability to test out of courses they have mastered to spend more time training on topics they don’t know as well. Gain insights on how effective your training is by retrieving granular data on specific questions or administer surveys for a broader view.

spoke assessment example questions

Assessments are fully customizable and can be required before or after a training. A pre-assessment is a good way to draw a baseline for comparing employees’ results, post-training. Using a tool like Assessment Builder as an employee training tracker is a great way to start evaluating your internal training efforts. The more you measure, the more you know.

Spoke® Reports

Keep track of your team’s overall results or review individual learner data with Spoke® Reports. Robust reporting helps you identify coaching opportunities for learners who have skill gaps and empower teams that need additional training resources. Filter reports by team, region, job code, and organizational hierarchy.

Spoke LMS reporting features

Dial in on course completions, user activity, and course activities. Practical, performance evaluations have never been so easy. Measure ROI with visual, interactive reports and go beyond the basics to discover metrics like social participation and learner engagement.

To grow your business you have to know your business. Access real-time, interactive dashboards, stunning user transcripts, and optional, business intelligence reports. Spoke is completely customizable to fit your business’ branding too, so you get all the credit for employee training satisfaction (don’t worry, we won’t Unbox your secret).

 

The Kirkpatrick Model

Dig a bit deeper into tracking employee training with the Kirkpatrick Model, which identifies four levels of learning evaluation:

kirkpatrick model four levels learning

At Unboxed Training & Technology, we use the Kirkpatrick Model to evaluate the effectiveness of employee training. Tracking employee training can be an elusive topic, but the four levels of learning can be used as guidelines to evaluate employees with some help from Spoke® LMS.

Reaction: Spoke® Surveys

The first level, “Reaction,” is meant to measure the learner’s experience with the training after they have completed a course. Practically speaking, this would look like administering a survey at the end of a training to gauge the employee’s experience. Some example questions could be:

  • How did you like the training? 
  • What did you like about it?
  • Did you enjoy the learning experience?
  • How do you feel post-training?
  • Were you satisfied with the virtual instructor?

Learning: Spoke® Assessments

The second level, “Learning,” tests the employee’s new knowledge to determine the retention of what was learned. A pre-assessment and post-assessment should be administered to properly gauge the level of comprehension.

  • Pre-assessment: ask questions related to the training topic.
  • Post-assessment: ask topical or scenario-based questions directly after the training to test knowledge retention.
    • What new topics did they learn?
    • How well did they acquire this new knowledge?
    • Are they confident in their abilities to execute the job’s task.
  • Compare results.

Behavior: Practical Application

The third level, “Behavior,” is where the post-training application is played out. Interviews and scenario-based assessments are helpful tools when analyzing the effectiveness of training 3-6 months later. Tests and quizzes are not as effective at this level because behavior changes don’t play out on paper. Changes in behavior occur at different times for everyone and typically require a personal follow up at a later date. 

Results: Key Performance Indicators

Positive results are the goal of any employee training initiative. The success of training is seen over time by measuring company sales goals, team efficiency, individual task completion, customer satisfaction, product quality, faster turnaround times, etc. Identify specific, key performance indicators (KPI) to track, measure, and evaluate. Use those KPI’s to determine how successful the training proved to be over a particular time frame. Review the results at an appointed time or during the employee’s end-of-year evaluation.

 

Tell Me More About Spoke® LMS

Every business is unique, but so is every employee. Training should be custom fit to meet the needs of your business and the learning needs of employees. Do you have an employee training tracker to measure results? Is your training doing the job? Are you ready to start making employee training trackable and more impactful? Request a demo of Spoke® or attend an upcoming Spoke® webinar. Our Spokes-people are on standby to show you how Spoke® can help you train better teams today.

Sources: Kurt, S. “Kirkpatrick Model: Four Levels of Learning Evaluation,” in Educational Technology, October 24, 2016. Retrieved from https://educationaltechnology.net/kirkpatrick-model-four-levels-learning-evaluation/

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How to Avoid Immersive Learning Pitfalls

Immersive training (augmented and virtual reality) is changing fast. It wasn’t long ago that most people thought of these mediums as sparsely- and strictly-used by gamers and tech geeks. Times have changed. Video games, marketing, training, movies, TV shows… you name it and you can probably access some form of it in AR/VR.

It may be the flashy new thing, but we’re starting to see real benefits from immersive learning. According to a recent study that compared mobile VR learning to reading a text document, when tested on learning objectives, learners who used VR scored an average of 94.5, while those who learned using the text document scored an 87.

Still, as with all fairly new technologies, AR/VR are not without pitfalls. We’ve seen that plenty want to use this tech primarily because it’s trendy – and they move to incorporate it without proper planning.

Let’s look at some of the most common immersive training pitfalls to ensure your use of this tech adds value from a learning perspective.

 

Lack of Measurement

Pitfall:

AR/VR by itself doesn’t typically contain a way to measure success or learning outcomes. Unless the software is built by a training company with analytics in mind, success and learning outcomes are probably an afterthought.

The measurement of learning outcomes is critical for any training technology. Without that measurability, it’s extremely difficult to calculate ROI, determine where learners are struggling and succeeding, or provide constructive feedback.

How to Avoid:

Before opting-in to immersive learning, put a measurement strategy in place. Start with the end in mind. Before you can begin building an immersive training experience, how will you know if it’s successful? One way is by having a training technology company build the software from the ground up with the end-goal of outcome collection and measurement as a requirement.

For example, we can measure if learners’ behavior changed and see if training had a measurable impact on performance by looking at qualitative data (like interviews) and quantitative data (customer satisfaction, sales metrics, etc.) With immersive learning, scenarios and environments can be built requiring specific behaviors to satisfy virtual customers, make virtual sales, or accomplish any other goal.

Then, to measure ROI, simply compare upfront development cost to the training’s impact on behavior change and performance.

 

It’s All the Rage!

Pitfall:

Make no mistake about it, AR/VR is cool and trendy. That’s reason enough for many to want to include it in their training repertoire. The fact that it just happens to be awesome technology isn’t the pitfall – the urge to use it solely because it’s cool.

How to Avoid:

If you want to build an AR/VR experience, ensure you have learning objectives that are best accomplished via immersive learning. Could you do the same thing in a video or eLearning? If you could, maybe immersive training isn’t your best option.

How can you determine if your learning objectives are well-suited to AR/VR?

Do you have something that needs to be seen or demonstrated without your learner being there?

Maybe you’re training pilots while they’re spread across multiple cities without access to the same type of aircraft. Or perhaps you need to show workers in different parts of the country a process that’s used in a single factory so they can replicate it.

These examples lend themselves well to immersive learning because your learners are spread out and it’s incredibly costly to bring them all together. Save time and money by having them learn together virtually instead.

Need to learn something dangerous, risky, or particularly stressful?

Performing surgery or mixing chemicals in the making of medicines are two examples that could be taught and practiced through AR/VR with all of the learning benefit and none of the physical risk.

Immersive training allows for safe practice and exposure to situations that would be too dangerous otherwise.

Perhaps your workforce is spread far and wide, yet they need to collaborate to learn best.

How about a team that needs to work together to solve a problem? Maybe a team that needs to disassemble a jet engine and each have certain parts to dissect and fix.

In the factory, a team has to work on an assembly line to improve efficiency. With immersive training, learners could experience the same environment, while physically in different places, and practice virtually.

This is also applicable for a disperse sales team . Immersive learning can help these teams collaborate and learn from their counterparts in a real-world scenario, no matter where they are.

The ability to learn and work collaboratively without having to be physically together or even having all of the requisite physical equipment is a training dream brought to life by AR/VR.

 

Hardware?

Pitfall:

Though the cool software is what really makes immersive learning, this training modality requires some pretty particular hardware. Getting too excited and investing in software is all for nothing if you don’t figure out the hardware first.

How to Avoid:

Make sure you have a plan for equipment in place prior to launch. Much of that equipment is rapidly changing, so what do you need – and how much? In general, the price of AR/VR hardware is coming down, but did you factor that into the money you’ll have to spend? Where can you get it? Will it work right for what you want to accomplish? There is an ever-growing number of options in the industry.

It’s okay if you don’t know where to begin. When designing an immersive experience partnering with an expert can help you consider which, and how much, hardware you’ll support. Plan first – buy second.

Immersive learning can enhance your training by making it more efficient… if you can avoid the pitfalls. At the rate this technology is emerging, now’s the time to start exploring its potential. Depending on your needs, it could change the way your learners learn for the better.

 

As with other newly emerging technologies, AR/VR may seem overwhelming at its face. Work with a trusted partner who can help you maximize the benefits of this modality and ease your mind.

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Leadership Training Topics: The Essential Checklist

Whether we’ve been one of the parties in an awkward supervisor/supervisee relationship, or we’ve watched poor leadership practices impact our organization, we all know managing people requires a specific skill set. Just because we give an individual contributor a new title doesn’t mean they have the skills they need to lead teams effectively—much less enjoy it.

A CareerBuilder survey reports more than 26% of managers said they weren’t ready to become a leader when they started managing others, and 58% said they didn’t receive any management training at all. According to the ATD whitepaper Experiential Learning for Leaders, only 28% of business executives say they’re effective at developing leaders.

Wow.

Leadership training is critically important. In this post, we hope to help you get started on the program your managers need. We’ll make it easy to identify the leadership training topics you need to consider, and we’ll explore different ways you can implement your program.

 

Leadership Training Topics

Even though the manager onboarding statistics are concerning, the good news is this—leadership training is a wonderful place to build a strong, sustainable culture of learning.

We’ve compiled a checklist of leadership training topics to help you answer this question: Where do my managers need to build their skills?

Leadership Learning Experiences

Okay, keep that strategy hat on and answer this next question: What type of training experience would be ideal for your managers?

Ultimately, you want to identify the must-haves that will unleash the most benefits for your company and culture. Here are some considerations to help you brainstorm. In order to meet business, manager, and team needs, many programs choose to blend two or three of these approaches.

 

IN-PERSON FACILITATED
PROS
CONS
More opportunities to bond, build a support network, and share best practices If facilitated as a full-day or multi-day event, follow-up activities should be developed and implemented to encourage application and defeat the “forgetting curve”
High learner accountability If facilitated as a full-day or multi-day event, may involve extra costs such as hotel, travel, and food
Limited distractions Managers are not as accessible to their team members
Can be developed in bite-sized formats and facilitated in-house to provide continuous learning

 

 VIRTUAL INSTRUCTOR-LED
 PROS
CONS
No travel required Fewer opportunities to bond, build a support network, and share best practices
Can be developed in bite-sized formats and facilitated in-house to provide continuous learning Difficult to measure engagement beyond course participation

Managers are susceptible to more distractions during the training

Technology challenges with video, Internet connectivity, and sound can negatively impact the learning experience

 

SELF-PACED ON DEMAND/JUST-IN-TIME
PROS
CONS
No travel required Fewer opportunities to bond, build a support network, and share best practices
Simple course completion tracking Difficult to measure engagement beyond course completion
Typically organized in bite-sized courses, so managers can balance training with supporting their teams Managers are susceptible to more distractions during the training
Consistent information and experience
Easy to administer

 

Leadership Training Timing

Based on our experience, the best time to enroll managers in training is right when they’ve been promoted, or “just in time.” Relevant leadership training is the antidote to sink-or-swim, a practice that hurts confidence, morale, and your company’s net promoter score.

Waiting for managers to ask for help is risky. You’ll lose productivity, and some of your managers with the potential to be great leaders might realize another company offers more support and professional development.

When it comes to leadership training, strike while the iron is hot, when managers are eager to learn. Proactively equip them with the skills they need to confidently excel in their new role.

 

Next Steps

Hopefully, you’re starting to get a vision for the type of leadership training topics your managers need, and the type of learning experiences that will support your goals. Keep in mind learning experiences can be combined in order to create a blended approach, and you can always hire a partner to help you develop your strategy.

Managers want to feel equipped for their roles so they can make a positive impact on your company and the lives of their direct reports. When you build their skills and confidence, you create a more sustainable organization and a better place to work.

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What Brené Brown Teaches Us About Effective Leadership Training

After recently finishing Brené Brown’s newest book, Dare to Lead, I already think it’s my favorite book of the year – and it’s not even summer yet! I resonated so much with this book personally, and as someone who professionally helps organizations grow their teams, it was hard to ignore what Brown’s message means for how we develop effective leadership training.

Brown defines a leader as “anyone who takes responsibility for recognizing the potential in people and ideas, and has the courage to develop that potential.”

Throughout the book, she answers the question leaders in organizations ranging from entrepreneurial startups to Fortune 50 companies are asking: How do you cultivate braver, more daring leaders, and how do you embed the value of courage in your culture?

What struck me was that I’ve always thought of courage as an inherent trait; however, thankfully for Brené Brown, I now understand it differently. In Brown’s words, “it is less about who people are, and more about how they behave and show up in difficult situations.”

And fortunately, courage is a collection of four skill sets that we can learn. Yes. Learn!

The four courage skill sets are:

  • Rumbling with Vulnerability
  • Living into Our Values
  • Braving Trust
  • Learning to Rise

Most effective leadership training today contain these four components. Let’s look more closely at how we can teach and develop these skills in our content.

 

Four Effective Leadership Training Components

1. Rumbling with Vulnerability

If we want to develop daring leaders that push our organizations forward, we must create environments where our leaders and teams can be vulnerable. Brown defines vulnerability as, “the emotion we experience during times of uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure.” And I think we can all agree that in our work, we encounter at least two of these on a regular basis. After all, some of the most life changing inventions of all time – the lightbulb, air travel, and the iPhone – definitely didn’t come in the world without a little uncertainty and risk.

Creating Psychologically Safe Environments

Brown writes, “If we want to people to fully show up, to bring their whole selves including their unarmored, whole hearts – so that we can innovate, solve problems, and serve people – we have to be vigilant about creating a culture in which people feel safe, seen, heard, and respected.”

Google’s five-year study on highly productive teams found that psychological safety – team members feeling safe to take risks and be vulnerable in front of each other – was “far and away the most important of the five dynamics that set successful teams apart.”

So, how do we train our leaders to create these kinds of environments? We need to train leaders on listening, honesty, and keeping confidence with a heavy emphasis on emotional intelligence.

We also need to teach that courage and fear are not mutually exclusive. You can feel brave and afraid at the same time. This is vulnerability and it’s okay. When our leaders are beating this drum and encouraging their teams to embrace these feelings, we’ll get innovation and creative-problem solving as a result.

We Need to Rumble

According to Brown, a rumble is a “discussion, conversation, or meeting defined by a commitment to lean into vulnerability, to stay curious and generous, to stick with the messy middle of problem identification and problem solving, to take a break and circle back when necessary, to be fearless in owning our parts, and to listen with the same passion with which we want to be heard.”

And in order for our teams to rumble with vulnerability, we need to empower our leaders against rewarding armoring behaviors like blaming, shaming, cynicism, perfectionism, and emotional stoicism. It’s time to take the armor off, and when it’s laid to the side, we’ll get teams that can fully thrive and create groundbreaking work.

 

2. Living into Our Values

Organizations and Leaders Need to Define their Values

In the organizational development world, we hear about values a lot. Many of our organizations have them (if yours doesn’t, advocate to make them a priority), but how many of us have taken the time to define our own values? The foundation of effective leadership training should be helping your leaders intentionally define their values. Brown recommends having just two values. Why? Because according to her research, “The participants who demonstrated the most willingness to rumble with vulnerability and practice courage tethered their behavior to one or two values, not ten. At some point, if everything on the list is important, then nothing is truly a driver for you. It’s just a gauzy list of feel-good words.”

Translate Values from Ideals to Behaviors

It’s not enough for organizations and leaders to just identify values, we have to teach people the skills they need to demonstrate them. I think Brown explains it best when she says, “The reason why we roll our eyes when people start talking about values is that everyone talks a big values game but very few people actually practice one.”

And the proof is in the pudding, according to Brown, “Only about 10 percent of organizations have operationalized their values into teachable and observable behaviors that are used to train their employees and hold them accountable.” Yikes!

This means that our leadership training needs to clearly outline how the organization’s and leader’s values translate into specific behaviors. Here’s an example of what this looks like from Brown’s organization. “Be Brave” is the organizational value and below that are the three behaviors to support it.

Be Brave
  • I set clear boundaries with others.
  • I lean into difficult conversations, meetings, and decisions.
  • I talk to people, not about them.

3. Braving Trust

Without trust, we have no connection, and if we can’t connect, vulnerability has no place. Trust is so vital to our teamwork that in Fortune’s research done for the annual list of the 100 Best Companies to Work For, they found that, “Trust between managers and employees is the primary defining characteristic of the very best workplaces.”

Brown takes our understanding of trust even further by defining the seven elements of trust (she calls this The BRAVING Inventory), so leaders have the language they need to give constructive feedback to their teams. She says, “Rather than rumbling generally about trustworthiness and using the word trust, we need to point to specific behaviors. We need to be able to identify exactly where the breach lies and then speak to it.” Your leadership training should be speaking to these seven elements too.

The BRAVING Inventory – The Seven Elements of Trust
  • Boundaries: You respect my boundaries, and when you’re not clear about what’s okay and not okay, you ask.
  • Reliability: You do what you say you’ll do.
  • Accountability: You own your mistakes, apologize, and make amends.
  • Vault: You don’t share information or experiences that are not yours to share.
  • Integrity: You choose courage over comfort.
  • Nonjudgement: We can talk about how we feel and ask for help without judgment.
  • Generosity: You extend the most generous interpretation possible to the intentions, words, and actions of others.

4. Learning to Rise

Daring leaders also need resilience skills. Brown says, “We can’t expect people to be brave and risk failure if they’re not prepped for hard landings.” Effective leadership training wouldn’t be complete without content on these skills. Brown has created a process called Learning to Rise that outlines how to be resilient.

The Learning to Rise Process
  • The Reckoning: Knowing that we’re emotionally hooked and then getting curious about it.
  • The Rumble: Acknowledging the stories (often untrue and based on our fears and insecurities) we tell ourselves to make meaning of hard situations.
  • The Revolution: Taking off the armor and rumbling with vulnerability, living into our values, braving trust with open hearts, and learning to rise so we re-claim authorship of our own stories and lives is the revolution.

In the spirit of Brené Brown, I’ll be vulnerable with you. Writing this post was challenging! Dare to Lead is chock-full of wisdom that should not only impact how we create meaningful and effective leadership training for our organizations, but also how we personally lead ourselves and our teams. Brown gives us so much valuable information that can be applied to leadership training (definitely read the book for yourself), and the four components you just read about are what I think is missing from leadership training today.

I’m so grateful for Brené Brown and the work she’s doing to help us step into daring leadership. When these tactics are incorporated into our leadership training, we’ll get the results we’re looking for and arm our leaders with the meaningful information and skills they need to be successful.

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