One of the most important aspects of any training is the evaluation which takes place after – to ensure what you have learnt on the course is put into practice.
Without it, it is all too easy to return to a project which has problems and find that implementing changes are just as difficult.
If you do go on a course determined to sort out an issue, unless you commit to learning sustainment – the practical application of those newly acquired skills to the job on your return – you are at risk of being actively thwarted.
ESI’s post-learning evaluation process assesses the effectiveness and relevance of training from the moment the class ends, enabling delegates to measure the outcome of their training. But as ESI instructor Jane Parslow explains, it is one thing to identify what the problems are and the necessary course of action – and another to actually go back to your programme manager and confidently point out to them what isn’t working:
“As instructors we need to make sure we are not just making people aware of what they’re not doing. The delegates I train put together an action plan on their course that is usually absolutely brilliant, but in reality they know they won’t get to do it because their boss doesn’t believe in it.
“In this situation it often comes down to how they might be able to influence their boss, in order to put those great intentions into action. As a process, this is very different from training – you have to be more geared toward implementation.”
While further training in Negotiation Skills and Communicating Up will help a great deal, having someone to follow up with, discuss what you hope to achieve and how you intend to implement this in the form of a coach will more likely lead to results.
Project managers can be a forgotten group when it comes to being supported. While most managers promoted for the first time can usually expect a degree of training on the job to help make the transition easier, project managers are thrown in at the deep end and often don’t receive any training except in hard skills, and yet have to manage people they have little or no authority over, while trying to get them to commit to pressurised dates or negotiate for money and resources.
Even the most experienced and knowledgeable PMs can come up against these barriers, but the good news is it should not be difficult to find someone who can perform a coaching and mentoring role, as Jane explains:
“Coaching boils down to having someone there who can support you through any plan that you want to implement, who can help you work through what the barriers or risks might be. Being a coach meanwhile, means knowing exactly what it is you are helping someone to achieve, and how to draw the process out of them. For example, being really clear on when and how they should go and have a difficult conversation with a boss – and then, most importantly, providing a feedback loop.
“If it went ok but they didn’t get all that they wanted, does it still matter? If it didn’t work, what else can they try? It does not need to be seen as a failure if it doesn’t work – that’s just part of guiding them towards finding what might work.
“Most importantly though, a coach not only encourages and helps somebody, it holds them accountable to someone other than themselves.”
The value and importance of post-training coaching is therefore invaluable when it comes to implementing what has been learnt through training.
Fortunately though, with organisations now increasingly choosing bespoke training courses – where a group of respondents make a strong commitment to learning sustainment rather than an individual – it is becoming more and more likely to happen.