When we’re working with a client who is charged with implementing retail sales training or other learning initiatives, one of the early questions we like to ask is, “What is the role of senior managers in developing their people?”

What comes next is not always encouraging.

While many understand the importance of what happens back in the field, they also know that senior managers are rarely fully committed or equipped to reinforce what was learned.

Training’s Goal is to Drive Business Results

If you’re implementing a learning and development program, whether it’s for the sales team, store support leadership, multiunit managers, or others, the ultimate goal isn’t to check the box to say you’ve done training. The goal is to drive business and financial results.

As we’ve discussed, to get a full return on the investment of time, money, and effort involved, you have to have a plan for follow-up and reinforcement. Your senior managers’ ability to coach and strengthen the leadership of others is key to producing clear, measurable results.

Here are 6 questions senior managers should consider as they prepare for the reinforcement discussion:

  1. What will you say to discuss the importance of strengthening their skills and the impact on business results? Consider the possible reactions.
  2. How will you ask them to review their commitments?
  3. How will you ask them to share results created so far?
  4. How will you ask what additional support is needed from you?
  5. How will you ask them to summarize and come to agreement on what each of you will do to keep the new concepts, skills, and learnings a priority?
  6. What will you say to reinforce their willingness to grow and apply new learning, and when will you follow up?

Reinforcement not only extends the training concepts and skills to day-to-day application back in the field, it also builds trust and strengthens the critical coaching role your senior managers play every day. Frame it in the context of achieving the business and financial results they really care about, and the benefits will be clear to everyone.

Are your senior managers involved in reinforcement? What are the challenges or barriers you’ve seen? Share in the comments or tweet us at mohrretail.


About Michael Patrick

Michael held positions in retail management, merchandising, and human resources before joining MOHR Retail’s predecessor in 1986. In 1990 he purchased the retail division of that firm to form today’s MOHR Retail. Michael holds true to his retail roots by delivering learning that changes behavior—providing both immediate and lasting business impact. In addition to facilitating MOHR Retail training programs, he offers executive-level coaching in one-on-one sessions dealing with critical strategic issues such as succession strategies and executive team development. The author of “The New Negotiation Mindset: Guarantee A Bigger Slice,” Michael is a longstanding member of NRF as well as ISA: The Association of Learning Providers. He has a B.A. from San Diego State University, completed Master’s level work at Arizona State University, and lives with his family in New Jersey.