“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” ~Aristotle

“Repetition of the same thought or physical action develops into a habit which, repeated frequently enough, becomes an automatic reflex.” ~Norman Vincent Peale

Too often when we roll out training or initiatives, we make a big deal about the class or training session, but we don’t do anything about follow-up to drive the behavior past the initial session. This results in people falling back on other habits, the process evolving in different ways as people use their freedom to make unintended changes, and sometimes the training being a complete waste of company time and money.

The key is to do follow-up sessions to encourage dialogue, ensure compliance, and overcome obstacles. It is also a fantastic way to solicit further improvements. This could be every day after training, it could be every week afterwards, but the key to habit forming is repetition. How Long? Most studies show that habits take around 30 days to form, so your initial horizon is this far. Past that, it is often worthwhile to continue driving it as a pillar or representation of how you do business.

In some cases you can make up for this time by shortening some training classes, especially ones that have reinforcement sections built into them. But most of the time it needs to be factored in as a way of cementing the learning (and as an insurance policy to the investment of time and money). Other possibilities are publishing performance metrics daily or weekly in a public place to show progress and build accountability.

Regardless of how you do it, the correct HABITS are what we are looking to build as managers and that will require a longer time/effort horizon than the 4 hour training session you had planned.

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