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For training to be effective, employees have to adopt new behaviours and skills. All too often employees return to their workspaces and keep doing the things they’ve always done (Lord knows I did in my early days). But that destroys the purpose, benefits and investment in professional development training.

In a perfect world professional development training is a 5-step process that includes:

  1. Identifying the behaviour and habits that need to change… and why.
  2. Planning & customize training to your objectives and participants needs / profile
  3. Showing Training Relevance
  4. Training
  5. Providing post-training support

Post-training support is often the step that’s missed – and with just a little tweak employees and managers can experience great gains.

So, how can a company ensure that when they invest in training it actually is an investment – not an expense?

There are a few techniques managers/organizations can use, but before we get into all that, lets agree to two things:

  • Training can always change behaviour and habits – always! The one thing we need is a motivated employee.
  • All employees can be motivated when they see relevance and experience support.

Why do I believe all employees can be motivated? The easiest example I can give is a new employee. New employees learn new behaviours and habits quickly. They are highly motivated to learn. The challenge is that once they get into a routine they begin to naturally resist change… unless we can motivate them again. We all resist change for good reasons. When we have a routine we are able to work quickly with few mistakes; change slows things down. I discuss this in greater detail in my post, ‘Change Management: Why The Process Matters’.

And training means change. So, how can we reinforce employee training / change? One of my favourite is Showing Training Relevance.

Showing Training Relevance

Before, during and after, show participants how the training relates to their jobs, the company and their own long-term professional opportunities. Explain how the training can help them improve their performance and what that improvement means to them and the company.

Today's employees care about career development and taking on new responsibilities; they want to learn, especially Millennials and Gen Z. If an employee sees their employer investing in them (vs. forcing them to go to training), they will be far more open to training. When employees see their employer investing in them, it increases employee loyalty – which means organizations save more (spend less), hiring and training new employees.

Example: If you offer me training that I see no reason for I’m not going to be a very good training participant. But if you and I discuss that taking the professional development you are offering I will be able to improve my current productivity AND my future goals, I’m going to lean into that training for sure.

More Ways To Reinforce Employee Training

There are many more options on how to provide post-training support; so many that I’ve created a separate blog post dedicated to this topic. Click here to read that blog post.


Professional development training fails when employees don't see the relevance of the training to their jobs and/or management does not provide employees with the necessary support and reinforcement of the skills learned.

We expect a lot from employees... and they are willing to give it when they feel they are getting something back (more than a paycheck). One of the best ways to encourage employees to be more engaged and more productive is to invest in them – let them know they are important enough that you care about helping them be their best and that you want to equip them to excel at their current and future jobs.

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Copyright © 2015 by Bruce Mayhew.


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