Training Outcomes

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Mindsets are a powerful thing. They can be deeply ingraine–and difficult to change. Stanford University Mindset Psychologist Carol Dweck, one of the world’s leading researchers in the field of motivation, famously studied the behavior of thousands of children. She found that when they believed their intelligence and abilities could grow, they had a desire to learn and, as a result, were willing to embrace the challenges necessary to keep achieving more. They didn’t give up in the face of criticism or setback.

Dweck coined the term “growth mindset” to describe the mindset of these children, as opposed to those with a “fixed mindset,” who believe their intelligence is static and, therefore, are more likely to avoid challenges and negative feedback, ultimately plateauing before they ever achieve their full potential.


The correlations to the workplace aren’t hard to see. If you’re a manager or HR professional, consider the different employees you’ve worked with and developed over the years. Were there some who seemed eager to tackle the tough assignments and put in the effort, able to bounce back from setbacks and find the lessons in others’ success?

Contrast that with the employees who gave up easily when any obstacle got in the way, who looked for ways to avoid challenges and didn’t see the point in putting in the effort. They probably ignored useful feedback and felt threatened by others’ success.

Growth-mindset employees tend to be high performers because they believe they can keep achieving more. Even though work problems have become increasingly complex and the environment keeps changing, they’re driven by an inner motivation that says, “I can keep learning and rising to the challenge.”

Fixed-mindset employees often stall out—or worse. They believe they can’t, and so they don’t.

Coaching Growth-Mindset Beliefs Starts with the Manager’s Mindset

To build high performance across the organization, managers should encourage and promote a growth mindset among all employees. To do that, they first have to believe that the solutions to the challenges their employees face can be found within the employees themselves. Too many managers have their own fixed mindsets about what an employee’s growth potential might be, and it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

When managers assume that their employees’ ability to learn and adapt are finite, limiting their horizons for personal and professional growth, it can cause good company cultures to deteriorate, strategy to derail, talent to be squandered and results to suffer.

A growth mindset is essential not just for employee performance but also for the manager’s performance as an effective coach.

Expanding Belief Boundaries

Great coaches understand how an employee’s belief boundaries will affect what they perceive as possible, and how these boundaries either help or hinder progress towards achieving higher levels of performance.

So, what are belief boundaries? Over time people form certain beliefs about themselves, and these beliefs influence their view of what they believe they can achieve. As a result, they:

  • Form boundaries around their own inner beliefs.
  • Make assumptions about their abilities that directly relate to their inner beliefs.
  • Use inner beliefs as a mental paradigm that controls and regulates their actions, feelings, behaviors and abilities.


A coaching culture that supports a growth mindset hinges on expanding an employee’s belief boundaries, starting with understanding how their beliefs and values are influencing their emotions, which in turn are driving their behaviors and actions. When coaching efforts shift from providing feedback to building self-discovery, belief boundaries incrementally stretch, creating an emotional openness to learning new skills and behaviors.

Steps to Building a Growth-Mindset Coaching Culture

Here’s an action plan to get started building your growth-mindset coaching culture:

Senior Leadership Steps

  • Create new expectations and clear accountabilities for coaching, with all levels of managers responsible for improving their teams’ behaviors, attitudes and skills.
  • Communicate and model core organizational leadership values and behaviors, emphasizing that coaching is an authentic, honest desire to develop managers and their teams to their full potential. Without this, other management levels will not follow.

Middle Management Steps

  • Encourage coaching as a tool to achieve business results.
  • Reinforce that coaching is also about building a shared purpose, connecting coaching conversations with organizational values, direction and strategy.
  • Coach the coaches, using the power of questions coupled with listening to gain an accurate picture of how frontline managers are effectively leading and coaching.

Frontline Management Steps

  • Understand the drivers of human behavior—emotions, beliefs and values—using these insights to break through perceived blocks inhibiting employee success.
  • Use the power of questions to build employee self-discovery.
  • Know when to be non-directive (listening, questioning, clarifying, to promote creative thinking and idea generation) and when to be more directive (giving advice and training).
  • Respond to resistance by uncovering the true root cause of employee disengagement, and treat failure as an opportunity to learn.

When a manager sees more in their employees than they themselves see and is able to express a genuine confidence in their ability to succeed, employees will rise to meet higher expectations. Expanding belief boundaries and building a growth mindset at all levels improves problem solving and increases creativity and innovation across the organization. And as new levels of success occur, employees will continue to form new behaviors and keep improving their performance.

About the author

LIsa BullockLisa Bullock has over 20 years experience working with Global 1000 companies to link strategic business objectives to high impact learning solutions. Contact Lisa at

Reblogged from Integrity Solutions.

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Should you take the risk and promote your top-performing salesperson to manager?

The stakes are high. You’re not only going to lose a great player on the field, you’re also making a bet that their outstanding current performance will translate into this new role.

The debate over whether the best salespeople will make great sales managers has been going on for decades. While in many professions, there’s often a logical career progression up the ranks to management, it’s not necessarily so clear-cut in the world of sales.

One of the reasons is that many of the factors that make a salesperson a top performer are quite different from what it takes to be an effective sales manager. A few of those characteristics might even hamper their success as a manager.

But maybe a more productive starting point for the conversation is to consider what makes a great sales manager in the first place. Is it micro-managing, picking up the slack, criticizing poor performance or stepping in to “fix” what’s wrong?

Not hardly.

And while there are certainly operational aspects to sales management—staffing, reporting, planning, budgeting and other activities—the ultimate goal for every sales manager is to make sure their salespeople are able to reach their full potential so that they can not only hit their numbers and build a strong, loyal customer base but also be more fulfilled in their work and committed to the business.

In fact, you could say that the great sales managers are those who move people from where they are today to where they want to be.

Fittingly, that’s also one of the historical definitions of the word “coach.”

Why Companies Struggle to Develop Great Coaches

In a recent Sales Management Association research report on Hiring Top Sales Management Talent, coaching ability ranked among the top five competencies companies consider when evaluating a salesperson’s qualifications for a management promotion. Considering how integral coaching is to the role, this isn’t surprising. But what’s worrying is the fact that firms in the study rated their effectiveness at developing managers’ coaching ability at only 50 on a 100-point scale.

Where are they going off track? Well, they could be overlooking one the most important factors in coaching success.

No, it’s no some magical skill or technique. While there are some skills every sales manager needs to develop to be a successful coach, coaching ability is more than a skills issue. Values, a genuine belief in people and a desire to help them grow are often far more influential when it comes to a manager’s coaching effectiveness.

Here’s why: When employees fail to achieve desired results, managers often assume they’ve peaked in their performance and stop challenging them to improve. Once employees discover the level of performance managers will accept, they settle in. We call this “The Law of Limited Performance.” This limiting loop of beliefs is a self-fulfilling prophecy on both sides of the equation, and it inevitably results in lower productivity and untapped potential.

So while many companies may offer their managers training on how to coach their salespeople, if they miss this key factor, their efforts will invariably come up short.

Putting Values and Beliefs in Focus

Being able to run the operation is very different from having the awareness or the critical coaching capabilities to inspire team members to grow, improve and deliver what is possible.

The question is, how do you develop this core coaching success factor? How can you improve the odds that your great salespeople—or even your great sales managers—can be fully successful in the role?

Any training that you implement should be grounded in helping managers understand and learn how to break The Law of Limited Performance, starting with their own beliefs about their role.

Self-reflection is the first step in making the shift. Here are five questions that will help them gauge their own readiness and begin to understand the mindset, values and beliefs necessary to be an effective coach:

  • Do I believe the coaching is developing potential in people?
  • Do I believe I have the ability to be highly successful as I coach?
  • Do I live by and model values of integrity, honesty and sincerity?
  • Am I willing to do all the activities required to be a successful coach?
  • Do I have an unwavering belief in the potential of my people?

Coaching is as much about the manager’s own development as it is about developing the performance of their people. The good news is, developing those hi-potential players and managers into great coaches is more than worth it. A Bersin by Deloitte study found that the organizations that effectively prepare managers to coach are 130% more likely to realize stronger business results.

Here’s the even better news: It’s not just business; it’s personal. If you’ve ever had someone in your life who helped you recognize your potential and see greater possibilities, then you know the powerful difference a great coach can make.




By Mike Fisher

This blog was originally published through our partners at The Sales Management Association.

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Johnny Walker

Changing behavior isn’t easy. Not only does it take a lot of hard work, but it requires a concrete process that you can trust and follow on a daily basis. Most training courses give you great content, but if that content isn’t deployed or delivered effectively, it is a waste of time and money.

Many organizations not only look for great content, they also look at the entertainment factor: Is the training fun? Is the speaker engaging? Did we get positive feedback from the participants?

These are important, but you can have a perfect score on all of them and your training can be a total flop, simply because the participants can’t apply the principles. It’s not because they aren’t capable of learning and applying the principles; it’s because the deployment methodology isn’t effective.

Too often content is delivered too quickly and too much information is given. It’s like drinking from a fire hose, and it leads participants to forget most of what they learned in 48 hours or less.

To combat this, we need to pay attention to three important components of learning:

1- The Forgetting Curve

I have literally asked thousands of people this question: “How quickly do you forget the information you learn at a corporate training?”

The answers vary, but not by much. Here are a few:

  • A few days
  • A few hours
  • A week
  • 2 weeks

Then I ask, “How much of the training is actually being applied 3 months later?”

The answers are almost always well below 10%. That’s a lot of money being spent on information that is quickly forgotten and never applied!

A study by Ebbinghaus and Goddard found that we typically lose approximately 75% of what we just learned within 48 hours.

After 3 weeks this “forgetting curve” is at 93%. That translates to 7% retention across the board, unless there is accountability to apply the material.

But let’s be honest and admit that the vast majority of the time, the accountability to ensure application of the training material is left up to the managers, many of whom many never have been trained in facilitation techniques or how to coach their people.

It all looks good on paper, but the forgetting curve is seldom overcome. Even at 25% retention, that is a lot of time and money wasted.

50 dollar bill among crumpled pieces of paper. Wasted business idea money waste concept.
With the consistency of follow-up coaching, studies show that retention can be as high as 87% after 30 days. What does this mean for you?

Your training needs to have follow-up coaching built into it for greater comprehension and accountability for application!

2- The Spacing Effect

Just having follow-ups isn’t enough. They have to be spaced out appropriately.

Spacing effect studies indicate that having the follow-ups too close or too far apart decreases recollection and application of the material learned. A month apart can be too long. People forget about the training and simply rush to do the homework. It’s more of a reminder of what they should be doing instead of holding them accountable to applying the principles on a daily basis.

Follow-ups that are too close together can create information overload, and retention rates will decrease, making your follow-ups ineffective.

For soft skills training, we have found that one week is the perfect amount of time for participants to apply what they are learning, and not so long that they forget about it between follow-ups. These are not reminders to see if they can get a question correct, but follow-ups with groups of their peers to learn from each other, share experiences and be held accountable to applying the information. We have seen two weeks apart work, too, but the further apart the follow-ups are, the less effective they become, as daily accountability begins to decrease.

Virtual work environments and dispersed employee populations need to be considered as well. Having the option for group follow-ups by phone is important since many organizations have team members all over the country or even the globe.

Ignoring the spacing effect of retention can cost your organization thousands of dollars in wasted training and greatly reduce the ROI of your training efforts.

3- Limitations of Working Memory

Studies show that if follow-ups have too much information in them, participants won’t be able to retain it all. Recent research has estimated working memory capacity to be about four (4) pieces of information at a time.

This also explains why 1-3 day training sessions are ineffective, no matter how enjoyable they are.

Having a 1-3 day training is fine, if it is only intended to introduce concepts. But because of the limitations of working memory, it is unreasonable to expect that any of your participants will remember more than 25% of the skills covered, let alone be able to put them into practice.

This principle also applies to the follow-up process. The information must be broken down into fewer than five pieces of information per follow-up if you expect people to remember to apply them throughout the week.

So, what does all this mean for training today?

Well, it simply means that for training to be effective you have to make time to follow up with the participants if you want to get the greatest return on your investment!

Deployment matters! The greatest content in the world is useless if it isn’t deployed effectively.

About Author

Johnny Walker

Johnny Walker


Johnny Walker is a Business Associate with Integrity Solutions and an executive coach working with both individuals and companies. Through coaching he has been able to assist professionals and teams navigate through difficult changes in company culture, increase job satisfaction, increase job performance, reach goals faster, and increase life satisfaction. A version of this blog post originally appeared here.

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