Published on daily newspaper SME

If it hasn’t happened to you, you must have at least heard about it. A company decides to carry out a change that influences all of its employees. It orders a training for employees.

The training is successful, both participants and lecturers are satisfied, goals are fulfilled, evaluations are positive. The management feels that once again, things are moving the right way ... However, a few months later, the enthusiasm vanishes and things return back to the way they were before. What went wrong? Why was the will to carry out a change in the company high at the beginning, but disappeared after a while?

Especially in large organizations, the line management, the employees’ direct supervisors, is sometimes cautious towards changes. It has experienced a variety of changes and “changes”, and doesn’t understand why such a change is necessary, perhaps doubting if it can meet the new demands. Instead of actively supporting the change, the line management takes the stance of impartial observers. The employees view it as a cold shower to their motivation and willingness to try new things or work procedures.

Inconsonance between the goals of the training and the system that is set up in a company is another common obstacle. It happens that an organization tries to change the behavior of its employees through an employee training – however, this behavior is merely a logical outcome of the system. An example is when the management wants to introduce quality communication of call center employees – even though the call length standards and the parameters of their introductory and concluding sentences are set up against this goal.

How can this be prevented? Before the training itself is applied within the organization, we have to prepare for the change. We motivate the line management and strengthen its skills so that it isn’t wary of the change. We reconcile the existing system with the goals of the change, and set up the training similarly. For example, we will conduct trainings shortening phone calls in call centers in such a way that we can fully respect customer orientation. Immediately after a training, we will provide support for the acquirement of habits through coaching and follow-up workshops. In the final phase, we will concentrate on preserving the habits through mystery shopping, coaching or “preservation” trainings. Also, it is important to agree on immediate feedback from the training company in case it becomes evident that the goals of the training are not in convergence with parts of the system.

Daniel Bútora
Dušan Číčel
(The authors are consultants of the company FBE)