Making a Difference in Behavior Through Training

Making training quick and easy is a common goal in today’s organizations.

We’re used to checking things off our lists and getting things done with efficiency. Training designed from this point of view focuses, for example, on communicating generic information, best practices, policies, procedures, techniques, and consequences. This is often an effective approach for teaching people how to use a new software program or how to operate a piece of equipment. However, this focus on being quick and efficient is a point of view that usually results in a type of content and a training style that yields negligible impact on behavior.

Participants typically fully understand this type of content and easily get high scores on quizzes, using just one part of the brain, called the neocortex (also called the isocortex or neopallium), which is involved in cognition. Unfortunately, the neocortex does not drive behavior. It is the limbic system of the brain, in particular the hippocampus and amygdala, that is responsible for behavior, along with emotions, decision making and formation of long-term memory. The limbic brain cannot be reached through words alone. This is why so many people can complete training, master the content, and still exhibit poor or less effective behavior choices that may be in sharp contrast to that featured in training.

To influence behavior choices, training should be made relevant to employees through customization to the organization; and, it needs to be delivered so as to appeal to participants’ self-interest and aligned with their values, goals and desires. Employees must receive a personal benefit from participating in and applying the training, a benefit that motivates behavioral change. People rarely change their behavior for others or for organizations; they change for themselves. The type of training that can help drive behavior is delivered in ways that respect people, and has a purpose or objective that the participants want to own.

In our experience this is true whenever you’re training with a goal of driving behavior –whether you’re training to achieve compliance, such as in safety or harassment, or you’re building skills and strengths to propel your organization to the next level of performance, such as leadership, management, teamwork, or customer service.

Canned programs and lectures may be effective in schools and colleges, where the shared purpose or benefit is a desired degree, or in training programs with the objective of teaching participants how to use a software package — but when behavior choices are the target of focus, and success is measured by implementation of desired behaviors in the workplace — this is best accomplished using a different approach with different content and different training styles. For this, we recommend customized training with a motivating, participant-centered approach.

We hope that this article is useful to you in planning solutions to your training initiatives. Thank you for taking the time to read it — we wish you great success in 2019 – and beyond, through a new and increasing capacity for driving behavior change through training.

Note: Lighthouse image is from Pinterest







Prism Perspectives Group LLC was formed with one purpose: To Build Organization Performance. We believe that every manager has a special opportunity to make an extraordinary imprint — to build a great legacy. To this end, we leverage our 3 specialties:

  • Organization assessment and development
  • Human Resources services and management
  • Custom training and coaching in leadership and management, building teamwork and teams and customer service

Contact Us: / 603-878-1546


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