If you are starting to change your team’s behavior, there are certain tools that you have to have. When I was growing up, my father was a general contractor. I worked for him most days after school and during the summer breaks from school. Regardless of what other tools we had in our belts, we always carried a claw hammer. With just a claw hammer, you can build a wall or demolish a small building. You can fix a mistake by pulling out a misplaced nail. The claw hammer was our go-to tool. We never went to a job site without one.

Training is the most important tool for changing the way your team shares knowledge. Why? Training holds out the promise to deliver all three elements necessary for your team to embrace knowledge sharing as part of its behaviors.

  • Motivation – connecting the dots. Training helps the team understand why knowledge-sharing practices help them, the customers and the entire company/organization.
  • Ability – teaching people how to do things. In the case of knowledge-sharing practices, that means teaching the team how to find, reuse, enhance and create knowledge.
  • Trigger – rebuilding the response. Training gives the team practice with a new response to the need for knowledge. Training is about recognizing when there is a need for knowledge and learning what to do about it. Not just in theory, but also in practice.

That’s what training would be in the ideal world. Most training doesn’t deliver all three elements. What should you watch out for?

  1. If your training doesn’t address motivation, ability and trigger, then you won’t change behavior.
  2. Practice is really important to behavioral change. If you don’t allow the team to practice, they will (we hope) pick up the motivation and trigger, but will lack the ability.
  3. Distance hamstrings the effectiveness of training. Distance in two ways. Distance from where the team is likely to encounter the trigger (for example, their desks). Distance from when they are going to encounter a trigger and use the “how to” that they learned in the training.

So, how can you address these challenges?

  1. Mix up motivation, ability and trigger content in your course. Teach the “why” with the “how” and always provide lots of practice.
  2. Deliver training as close to when the team needs it as possible. Ideally, delivering training at the desk will shrink the distance between where the training provides guidance and where the team will use it. Also, online, self-guided courses can shrink the time between when the team members needs to know what to do and when they do it.
  3. Always assess your training effectiveness. Remember to assess not only the training, but also the behavior change. After six weeks, are team members using knowledge-sharing practices when they encounter a need for knowledge (trigger)?

What are your burning questions about training? Is it your most effective tool?

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