Taking a page from Supply Chain best practices, great organizations know that WHEN you deliver training can be just as important as what is in the training.  Just In Time Training states that adult workers need training on changes to systems and processes just before the change takes place.  That is NOT to say that users should not be involved in preparing for changes much earlier.  It is just that to make training “stick” it needs to happen as close to the actual change as possible.

    Think about your own life.  When you get a bank or insurance notice that there will be a change coming that may affect you in 60 days, do you ever really retain that information?  Chances are, you toss that piece of email or let it moulder on your kitchen counter for a few weeks before throwing it away.  Then when the change happens in a couple of months, you can never really understand what happened or why.  If the information had come just a few days beforehand, you would have had a better chance of understanding the change and may even have given the company more credit for notifying you in such a timely fashion.

    See that’s the thing: be timely – not early (or heaven forbid, late) with training.  Then have plenty of real-time support through online FAQ’s, 800 numbers or a dedicated SME available for questions as the change occurs.  Training should also be applicable to the specific job function.  In other words, specific training “audiences” need to be identified and their specific needs taken into account.  Giving training to everyone “just i case they need to know” when only half of the people are impacted is a waste of everyone’s time.

    To make training effective, the impacts need to be identified and translated into new actions, skills and knowledge for users.  Leaders must be given the correct messages they need to deliver over time.  There should be broad endorsement and confidence communicated by senior leaders.  Mid-level managers should have more detailed information about timing, outcomes and measurements.  Finally, line leaders need to have training themselves and then communicate detailed information and follow up with regular check-ups to see that change is being adopted.

    I once had a manager who told me that for people to believe something is true, they need to hear it 14 times.  I have no idea where this factoid came from.  But certainly, for adult learners there needs to be consistent messages and regular follow up for them to “believe in the change.”  Focused training delivered just in time is a good start.