Strategic Human Capital Insights

Training & Development: How Do You ‘Make It Stick’?

This is a guest blog post written by Rodney Nelson, Vice President of Client Operations for the Arizona Manufacturing Extension Partnership.

A Multi-Faceted Process Flowchart Approach

For the past four years, I have been supporting local Arizona manufacturing businesses providing them with a wide range of organizational development and training services. What I have found is that these businesses are looking for training they believe will help their teams and companies work more efficiently. Whether a company is choosing to do a single or numerous training and development sessions, the chance of that training sticking past the first two weeks is very slim.

How Can You ‘Make It Stick’? 

The “it” could be any type of change where employees are learning a new skill and are expected to use that skill going forward. Yes, we have all heard the saying, “you need management buy-in” but, unfortunately, that is not enough. Management’s expectations need to be documented all the way down the chain of command and we need to hold both the workers and supervisors accountable.

The Role of the Job Description

Simply put, you need to get these expectations into the employee’s job descriptions. The job description is the foundation to holding employees accountable. This is so important, yet so simple. The hardest part isn't having your employees learn the new skill, but getting your employees to actually use that skill. So how do you make that happen? In your job descriptions, you need to document the expectation that your employees use the new skills and document that your supervisors hold their direct reports accountable. Have your employees sign their new job descriptions to cement in their mind that this expectation is here to stay. A job description without a signature does not demonstrate that the employee acknowledges they have both read and accepted the tasks in the job description. This is a critical step needed to finally use these new job descriptions for bi-annual employee reviews. Now you can ensure that both training and application will ‘Make It Stick’!

What’s the Glue to ‘Make It Stick’?

From those job descriptions and performance reviews, set up a monitored development plan for each employee. This development plan is the glue that makes it stick. As the leadership team, you must have a robust monitoring process that makes not only the employee accountable for learning and applying new skills, but makes the supervisor / manager accountable to make sure this happens!  It’s the mechanism that locks the process in place. With the development process in place, you can look at your organization’s development plans from a broad, macro perspective or a very granular, individual employee view. 

Pro Tip: Regularly updated job descriptions can be used for performance reviews, employee development and job postings. 

The Swim Lane Flow Chart

In the below Swim Lane Flow Chart, you can see how the ‘Make It Stick’ process works to embed your employee’s newly learned skills into your business culture:

  • New expectations are incorporated into the job descriptions
  • Employee signs off on new expectations
  • Supervisor audits ensure expectations are being met
  • Regular performance reviews keep the process moving forward in the future embedding your employees newly learned skills into your business culture 

Swim Lane Flow Chart Image

Click here to view a larger image of the chart

As you can see, ‘Making It Stick’ is a multifaceted process that requires the following:

  • Training
  • Relevant Job Descriptions
  • Performance Reviews
  • Monitored Individual Development Plans

Is it time for your organization to review your existing processes? If so, then it may be time for a completely aligned HR Audit to ensure that all your processes are seamlessly working. So let’s ‘Make It Stick’!


What critical organizational issues should you consider as you optimize the process of managing human capital? Download our 2020 Human Capital Checklist, which highlights the critical issues for your organization to regularly evaluate. You can also schedule a complimentary assessment with a member of our team.

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Topics: Human Capital, Human Resources, Human Asset Management, Performance Management

Posted by Joanne Flynn

Joanne Flynn

In 2014, Joanne Flynn founded Phoenix Strategic Performance, a strategic human capital advisory firm. Prior to this, Joanne was Vice President at Goldman Sachs for 10 years responsible for global learning and development. She then led the consulting practice of Phoenix Group International, a consulting firm specializing in global financial service. Joanne is now taking best practices from the people-intensive financial services industry and adapting those best practices to startup and growth businesses. She is a thought leader in the areas of strategic organizational alignment, organizational agility, human capital gap analysis, leadership challenges for the new workplace and transformation leadership.

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