Inquiries about our training services often start with vague details like, “we need civility training for 50 people,” or, “we need training for an employee with bad behavior.”
Naturally, our first response is to get curious and dig deeper into what’s driving the request. Nine times out of ten, organizations are dealing with an egregious “bad actor” who is going to cost them in litigation one day, or they’re experiencing a full-blown culture issue that’s increasing turnover and ultimately hurting their bottom line.
The organization’s proposed solution: Training.
We see a recurring belief from potential clients that training is the secret weapon to catalyze change in their organization. While it’s possible, that only happens in the right context.
If the organization does not support the behavior changes being asked of employees in the training, then it will fail. Or, if employees see roadblocks to implementing change, such as a lack of accountability for bad actors, the concepts outlined in training are dead in the water.
In fact, employees will exit the training session feeling they just wasted valuable hours.
Here’s an example:
Employees attend training and learn how to identify negative behavior, such as a microaggression, so that they can step in and influence that scenario in a positive way. Two days later, Sam recognizes bad behavior in Alex, but Sam doesn’t believe speaking up will lead to any consequences for Alex because he’s observed Cheri’s pattern of bad behavior over the last three years. It’s never gotten better, so of course Sam surmises that the organization doesn’t care about it. So Sam doesn’t speak up, and Alex’s behavior continues.
This is why the first step in culture healing is NOT training.
Before doing a one-off training around civility with your workforce, or putting an employee through training because it seems like what you’re supposed to do, consider how the organization will reinforce the learning that training provides.
Ask yourself the following questions:
- How will the organization hold employees accountable for what they’ve learned?
- Is there enough psychological safety to ensure they will report bad behavior, now that they know how to identify it?
- Are managers equipped with the tools they need to set expectations, coach negative behavior into positive behavior, and hold people accountable?
- Are managers committed to solving incivility issues amongst their staff, before the behaviors escalate into behaviors like bullying and harassment?
- How will the organization perpetuate the learning, skills and behavior outlined in the training?
If you’re unsure about any of the answers, then you’ll want to develop some strategies to ensure you’re reinforcing training in meaningful ways. Remember that training is just a blip in time, and turning around toxic behavior and organizational culture is ongoing.
Don’t waste your time, energy and frankly money on a training that’s going to fade in people’s minds a week after they’ve completed it.
If you’re considering training, let us help you set yourself, your organization, and your employees up for success through proper planning.
After all, expectations without accountability… are only suggestions.
Rebecca & The Civility Partners Team
(AKA, your experts in implementing training and all the stuff that goes with it to make it impactful)
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