Posted by Laura Riskus ● February 17, 2022

Change Management & Training: 5 Steps to Ensure New Learning Sticks

Training and change management are often viewed as two separate processes. But the reality is change management plays an integral role in delivering effective training. Here are five steps to help you implement change management so your training sticks.

Training & Change Management-1

Change management is the practice of addressing the personal side of change.

It helps identify what people need to be ready for change – so that a change can have a positive impact. As such, proper change management seeks to alleviate concerns and effectively communicate a change in a way that people can understand.

One of the most common ways to bring about change in the workplace is training – especially if you want to change how people do their work.

It can be tempting to see training as the activity needed to bring about that change; but in reality, you must prepare them first. That’s where a change management strategy comes in.

The Role of Change Management in Training

For training to be successful, people need to change their behavior in some way by the end of the training. It’s not just a "check-the-box" activity. Ultimately you want people doing something different than before.

Change management can help the training effort by crafting targeted communications around the training – priming people to get the most out of the training and making sure they know the context of how it will affect their job. Here’s how to do just that.

5 Steps to Successful Change Management

If you follow these general steps, you’ll be well set up to support any training initiative with proper change management practices.

Step 1 – Analyze Your Situation

When new training is rolled out, some will be affected more than others. To account for this, you need to be aware of the people whose jobs will change the most because of the training. This will let you know where you need to focus your time and energy as you create your change management strategy.

Step 2 – Create Messaging that Addresses Concerns

Now that you have your targeted groups singled out, you need to understand how to communicate with them.

Training can be viewed as good or bad, depending on what’s being taught and the purpose behind it. You need to be able to understand how the people impacted will initially view the training. From that knowledge, you can begin to create messaging that addresses any possible concerns and explains why the training is being implemented and how it will benefit them.

It’s also a good practice to determine the people who will need to communicate those messages. Communication should go beyond just the automated email sequence letting people know they have training coming up. The messaging should be championed by managers and trusted colleagues at every level of the company.

Step 3 – Involve the Right People

Depending on the impact of the training, you may only need to have a few people following up and reiterating the messaging.

Or you may need entire departments to come together to make sure the messaging is being distributed and understood. You don’t necessarily need a dedicated change management team, just make sure you’re equipping all the people that need to be engaged to understand their role and responsibilities in supporting the change.

Step 4 – Incorporate Change Messaging into Training

People need to hear something multiple times to learn and internalize it. In the previous steps, you’ve crafted the right communications and messaging around the training. You’ve also got the right people involved and the resources needed to distribute that messaging.

Now, you need make sure that same message appears in the actual training. This consistency will reinforce the change you are trying to bring about. And thanks to steps 1-3, people will be ready to fully internalize the change messaging as well as the actual training content.

Step 5 – Measure Outcomes

Finally, you’ll want to make sure that you finish up by measuring the outcome of the change management messaging and the training program. That will usually come down to measuring the desired behavior change that the training will hopefully bring about.

The methods used will depend on what you want to measure. Generally, you can get a good sense of the effect of the training by asking managers and seeing if work processes have changed or key metrics have been impacted.

What Happens If You Skip Change Management?

These steps may seem like additional work, and it can be tempting to forego change management to speed the training along for a variety of reasons.

Change management practices force people to ask difficult questions about training and the state of the company. It’s much easier to not ask those questions and just implement the training to check the box and get it done. But when you do that, you nullify a lot of the potential benefit that training can have for your organization.

The discussions around how to talk about new training inherently create a better understanding between a learning team and the organization. It brings both sides to the table to clarify the goals behind a training initiative and how everyone can help achieve them.

Overall, these types of discussions create a partnership between the L&D teams and the companies they work for. If change management is glossed over, you skip some of the foundational steps that inform the success of the training, and you avoid having deeply beneficial discussions that can impact your company’s overall success.

Conclusion: Change Management Leads to Returns Down the Road

Change management is a mindset – one that seeks to ask the difficult, human-focused questions about how training changes work. Addressing those questions head-on creates an environment where change can be viewed positively. This makes it easier for people to get what they need out of training – because they understand how it will impact their work, and how changing it will benefit the company.

Topics: Change Management, Instructional Design, Training and Facilitation, Learning Strategy