There are a few essential adult training design best practices I have applied in my time as a learning and development practitioner:

Think: Behavior.  Training is not about what people know, it’s about what they do. You can tell people what they should do, but that’s a poor approach if that’s all you do: Information alone won’t change behavior.

Think: Gap.  What are the learners’ current behaviors? What behaviors should they be exhibiting? We must be able to measure the gap between current and expected behaviors to know the scope of the training and measure its effectiveness.

Think: Root Cause.  What’s causing the gap, and why aren’t people already exhibiting the desired behaviors? If we don’t know what’s keeping people from progressing, we can’t fix it.

Think: Learning Modalities.  Any good training strategy addresses three areas of learning: 1) Skills (what can they do), 2) Knowledge (what they should know), and 3) Attitudes (how should they perceive the topic).

Think: Can’t vs. Won’t.  This is another way to unpack the attitude modality. Can’t is about capacity, talent, skill or organizational setting/culture, but won’t is about motivation. It’s easy to confuse one for the other.

I’ve found it helpful to use these training best practices as another way to think about leadership and influence.

You can tell people what they should do, but that’s a poor approach if that’s all you do: Information alone won’t change behavior.

And Your Point Is…?

If all you do is throw information at people on a series of PowerPoint slides, you’re not training them. And if all you do in your leadership is tell people what to do, you’re not really leading them.

So What?

Leadership mastery comes from getting your team to:

Think Behavior:  How can/should I purposefully adapt my behavior to suit the situation?

Think Gap:  What’s my current performance level, and where do I need to be?

Think Root Cause:  What’s blocking my forward progress?

Thinking Modes of Development:  What skills, knowledge and attitude(s) do I need to be successful right now?

Think Can’t/Won’t:  If I’m not seeing progress or success, is it because I’m unable or unmotivated? And why?

If you don’t explore, discuss and address these areas as a part of your leadership, then your leadership is likely defaulting to telling people what to do.

If all you do in your leadership is tell people what to do, you’re not really leading them.

The Big Picture

The more you can get your team to self-assess and self-manage in these areas the less hands-on you’ll have to be. You’ll be training your team how to lead themselves.

Your Next Step

What best practice should you try with your team first, and why?

The more you can get your team to self-assess and self-manage in these areas the less hands-on you’ll have to be.

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