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How Partners Can Effectively Provide Learning Opportunities that Lead to Lasting Change

- May 20, 2013 - 2 Comments


This is the fifth blog in the Cisco Partner Talent series, helping partners attract, develop, and retain the right people with the right skills at the right time. This month’s blog post goes into detail about stage five of the Cisco Fit4Talent Employee Lifecycle: Coaching and Mentoring. 

In my previous blog post, I discussed the value of learning—for your employees’ success and your firm’s bottom line. This month, I’m digging deeper, sharing the important link between behavior change and learning, based on recommendations by Workforce Management on the five steps employers need to take for improved performance.

Why is this important? Well, do you want to increase your firm’s profit? Productivity? Competitive edge? If the answer is yes, and I imagine it would be, you can accomplish all of that—and more—by educating your workforce.

And if you’re not convinced by all of the benefits, here’s a scary stat: people involved in training typically forget most of what they’ve learned within 60 to 90 days. So how can you prevent this knowledge “drain”? Let’s use golf as an example. 

Professional golfer Phil Mickelson is slicing his tee shot. What’s his coach to do? The article suggests that he would assess the root of the problem before making a recommendation—or, in the business world, offering training. For example, let’s say your employee is repeatedly missing his quarterly targets. He may need a skills boost—but in what area?

That’s where behavior may come into play. All the training in the world won’t change your employee’s numbers if he isn’t willing to change. So before sending him to training, follow these five steps:

  1. Insight and Intelligence into the Person: Don’t offer training to everyone just to put a check mark next to a group of employees. Instead, rely on an expert assessment tool to provide you with insight into where your employee may need help or behavior change to improve his performance.
  2. Acknowledge the Need to Change: If your employee doesn’t agree that his performance is a problem, you’re at an impasse. It’s at this time his manager can have a confidential, yet candid, conversation with him about his performance—backed by real insight from the assessment.
  3. Agreement to Work toward Change: At this stage, your employee has acknowledged the need for change. Now the real work can begin, including agreed on action. This plan should include a qualified coach to help him stay on track and keep his manager in the loop regarding progress. This step will go a long way in affecting real, lasting change that benefits everybody.
  4. Learning Intervention: This is where training can be added into the mix to help fill any skill or knowledge shortages. This is very different than blanketing an entire department, for example, with the same training. Instead of wasting workers’ time and company money, a training program is designed on an individual basis over time to allow for deeper learning.
  5. Reinforcement: As behavioral change occurs, continued coaching and management intervention is critical. Training—on its own—isn’t enough for maintaining focus and continuing change.

What’s the bottom line? Don’t offer training for its own sake. Follow this five-step process instead and your employees will likely become a more valuable member of the team—and more satisfied with their careers. And as individual contribution increases, company performance may go up, turnover may drop, and well, you get the picture.

Want to learn more?
If you found the information I shared valuable and want to learn more, you can download the full article, “Creating Lasting Performance Improvement Through Behavior Change” on the Cisco Fit4Talent site.

And if you’re looking to create an engaged and connected workforce to deliver great business results, register for the Cisco Virtual Partner Summit 2013 session, “Attract, Develop and Retain the Right Team with Cisco Partner Talent” on June 6, 2013 from 8:45am – 9:45am (ET).

I’d love to hear your feedback on linking behavioral change with learning. Please leave your comments below. And bookmark Cisco Fit4Talent, where you’ll find our free talent management resources.


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  1. Awsome professionals

    • Hi Nalinda, Thanks, great to know you like the article.