Training + Follow-up = Learning

This weekend, I was talking to a friend about her relatively new job. She’s pleased that she’s gotten some training in new practices, and is able to use them on the job. And she wishes she could go back to the training session. She’s an OT, but I think what she observes applies to people in software organizations, too.

“When I attending the training in this technique (a manual treatment for swelling associated with lymph problems), I didn’t know what questions to ask,” she said. “Now that I’ve been using it for a few months, I have bunch of questions, but I don’t have anyone handy to ask.”

A training session or workshop is only the beginning of leaning a new skill or practice. Training lays the foundation. The real learning will come from practice, especially practice with feedback.

Follow-up can be:

— review and feedback from experts

— pairing

— access to email or phone coaching

— follow-on training sessions

— on-project mentors or experts

Unfortunately,some managers treat training as the only component of learning a new skill. And then the are surprised when productivity is lower, or the promised benefits of the new practice aren’t realized immediately.

I know of a few people in our field who build follow-up sessions into training. What sort of training follow-up have you seen work?