Level 3 Lessons from an Unlikely Source – Part 1

August 27, 2013

Lesson #1: Formal Training Alone Won’t Work for Everyone

Jim and Wendy watched in fascination the day the baby birds in the nest outside their front door seemed to be preparing to fly. They stood on the edge of the nest, stretched out their wings and flapped them a few times. Some hopped onto a nearby landing.

As Jim and Wendy worked, they noticed a flock of birds swirling outside their office windows. It was the baby birds, being led by their parents! They all seemed to be flying fast and with confidence. However, when they were supposed to return to the safety of the nest, one bird just sat on the front step, either unwilling or unable to get back up to the nest.

The mother bird had two choices: leave her offspring to fend for itself, or enact a Level 3 plan. We held our breath as we watched the bird sitting vulnerable on the front step. Fortunately, the mother bird tended to the baby, bringing it food and making sure it stayed safe. Instead of just relying on the formal flying training earlier that afternoon, the mother realized that some learners will need additional support after training. In this case, the bird, smaller than the others, perhaps didn’t have the strength yet to fly as far or as high. She worked with the bird to strengthen and encourage it to fly to safety.

As evening came, the baby bird was still sitting on the front porch. Jim and Wendy were worried due to the abundance of nearby wildlife and possible predators. The bird found a perch a few feet off the ground. In the morning, Jim and Wendy were relieved to see that the bird had made it through the night, and the mother bird was still delivering it food and providing support.

That day, the flying lessons continued. All of the other birds left the nest for the day, but returned that evening to sleep. Even with two days of flying lessons, they still sought the safety of the nest for a bit longer. A little more encouragement and support was clearly needed before they would confidently join the other birds in the treetops.

Unfortunately, Jim and Wendy didn’t see the little bird on the porch any longer. They prefer to believe that it flourished with the extra support it received after flying lessons and now lives in a nearby tree with the other swallows. 

Your Level 3 Plan After Training

When you conduct training, to what degree do you take into account that not everyone will “get it” from the formal training program? Do you have a system of support and accountability set up to encourage people to do what they were taught, and to step in to help if they don’t?

Follow the example of the swallows and make sure that important training programs include processes and systems that monitor, reinforce, encourage and reward performance of the new behaviors on the job. These required drivers are necessary to get the level of performance your stakeholders expect.

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Additional Resources:

Kirkpatrick Four Levels® Evaluation Certification ProgramThe Brunei Window Washer

Transferring Learning to Behavior

Getting to Kirkpatrick Levels 3 and 4 (recorded webinar)

Meaningful Training Evaluation: It Isn’t so Complicated (recorded webinar)

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