Delight or Drudgery? How Employees View Training Matters

Many things in healthcare require skill development and reinforcement. Sometimes those things require mandatory training to ensure quality and safety. But just because it’s mandatory doesn’t mean it can’t be enjoyable.

When you hear the word “mandatory,” how do you react? During focus groups, I have asked staff members to share their reactions to the word mandatory. I usually hear groans followed by words like threat, discipline, force, or Joint Commission. It’s easy to discern that the word mandatory doesn’t evoke positive reactions. So don’t lead with that message.

A few weeks ago, I was training a group of physicians on communication skills that engage patients and build trust. When the Chief Medical Officer kicked off the meeting, the first thing he said was, “This is your mandatory training from Baird Group. They have trained all the employees and now it’s your turn.” Imagine the reactions from the providers. Arms crossed, slumped in their seats, and looking at their phones is how I was greeted. Despite having provided the CMO with introductory remarks that linked the session to the mission, vision, and values, he sent the message, “Look, you have to do this, so suck it up, and let’s just get through it.” How does that generate enthusiasm? How does that help connect to purpose? It doesn’t.

How leaders position training sets the stage. Strive for a learning culture where it is relevant, connected to purpose, and tied to personal and professional development.

When communication about training starts with “mandatory,” you may get resistance or at, the very least, feelings of dread. Saying is a Joint Commission requirement isn’t much better. It implies the only reason you are doing the training is to pass their site visit evaluation. It’s not. It’s to be the best for your patients and the people who serve them. So why not lead with that?

When you connect to purpose and goals and make the training relevant to their work, employees are much more likely to embrace training and approach it with an open mind.

Is some of your training going to be mandatory? Of course. But mandatory doesn’t mean you should lead with that message. Stress that it’s tied to goals. Help people see how it is relevant to their work. Share stories of when people relied on the training to get them through situations and give recognition for using the skills covered in training.

Next week, I will be speaking at ASHHRA about how to think like marketers when promoting training. Join me in learning what organizations can do to repackage training communication and shift the mood from drudgery to delight.

For more information about crafting communications that resonate with employees, contact Baird Group today to learn about our personalized consulting services at (866) 686-7672. Or schedule a free 30-minute consultation here

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