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Challenges of Behavioral Training


Rapidly advancing technology, globalization, holistically ambitious workforce, and a competitive business environment have made it necessary for organizations to adapt and continually improve. To meet these challenges, organizations need a multi-skilled and flexible workforce. As such, the workforce's knowledge, abilities, and attitudes must be enhanced for an organization to grow and improve. One of the important ways to accomplish this is by sincerely and purposefully investing in employee training and development. This helps in driving collaboration, mutual understanding, and innovation thus contributing to both individual and organizational success.

While organizations all around have long ago realized the importance of technical and functional training, behavioral skills are still rarely paid adequate and sincere attention. Behavioral skills refer to the behaviors, strategies, attributes, and attitudes that affect how individuals interact with their environment - including people, places, and situations. They influence various facets of behavior, including emotional responses, way of thinking, social skills, actions and reactions. Training in behavioral skills is necessary for effective interpersonal interactions, efficient communication, engaging attitudes, and positive emotions that allow workers to collaborate, coach, and perform well with their peers. This also leads to more contented employees and subsequent greater company profitability.

These skills include:

  • Decision Making

  • Conflict Resolution

  • Presentation skills

  • Business ethics

  • Body Language

  • Team Building

  • Communication

  • Performance Coaching

  • Positive Thinking

  • Time Management

  • Empathy

  • Personal effectiveness

  • Cultural Sensitivity

  • Creative problem solving

  • Change Management

  • Goal setting

  • Personality Development

  • Assertiveness skills

  • Corporate Étiquettes

  • Negotiation skills

  • Motivational Influencing skills

  • Coaching and Mentoring Skills

It is important to acknowledge that due to its swift reaction to any change, human behavior is a significant component affecting performance in the workplace. Toxic behavior at the workplace demotivates employees and affects their performance negatively. Moreover, today, managing diverse behaviors and having cross-cultural competence is a necessity for global enterprises. Therefore, it is crucial to understand and accept that technically adept individuals alone cannot successfully lead or manage a business. People with great interpersonal, leadership, and other behavioral skills are required to take on positions at any and every level for both individual and organizational success.

While the need for developing your workforce in behavioral aspects is quite apparent, there are many reasons as to why hesitations and doubts always crop up when it comes to its strategy, execution, and efforts at improvement. Let us get into the depth of such challenges, and the ways we can address them so that you can build an emotionally intelligent workforce and achieve overall organizational excellence.

Challenges of Behavioral Training:

Difficulty in Measuring Effectiveness and ROI:

The major purpose of an evaluation is to determine the effectiveness of various components of a behavioral training and development program, and to ensure that employees can learn and implement such behavior in required situations. It serves the purpose of ensuring that the training has a desired positive impact on a trainee's behavior and achieves positive outcomes in the form of improved work performance, cooperation, discipline, and employee satisfaction. It further investigates whether all of these outcomes are having a positive impact on factors such as return on investment, employee turnover, and absenteeism rate.

While the importance of ascertaining the effectiveness of the training and its impact on organizational performance is clear, there are many challenges in devising and implementing methodologies for its evaluation. This is particularly true for behavioral training since such skills are subtle and slow to absorb and intangible to observe. Thus, measuring impact on financial performance and that too by a subjective method (eg: Trainees' initial reactions to how engaging the training was) in absence of any well-defined quantitative methodology for evaluation doesn't serve well, both for building the business case as well for improving and optimizing the training.

Moreover, such training often accommodates different employees of different personality traits from different levels and domains, together in the session. As such evaluation can become more difficult as effectiveness and the resultant improvement in performance may vary for every employee. Also, since such training affects an individual's personal and emotional capabilities, the subjectivity, biases, and hesitance to disclose the changes always affect the feedback and survey responses administered for impact measurement. Thus, low response rates and lack of reliable data make it impossible either to prove training value or to find reasons for its existence.

Many organizations are keen on providing behavioral training to their employees, but most of them show hesitancy when it comes to measuring behavioral change. This happens mostly because of a lack of time and resources enhanced by the thought that such evaluations are subjective and not solidly quantifiable and therefore, are a waste to be measured. It is important to acknowledge that although it is positively and significantly related to individual and subsequent organizational performance, the relationship to financial outcomes (ROI) and impact on the business bottom line cannot be substantially and reliably quantified as it is mediated by the attitudes and emotional responses of the individuals. Whatever the reasons for such evaluations being challenging, understanding their importance and making efforts to reduce as much vagueness as possible is crucial for its success.

💡 Giving Adequate Importance to Effectiveness Evaluation:

The first step towards an effective evaluation is to convince and make the leadership and managers understand that evaluation is key to devising an effective strategy for its implementation and improvement. Only after the evaluation, would the trainers be able to bring in optimization and positive modifications in order to build a solid training program that is effective in transferring the learnings to behavior and sustaining the change. Train the managers and the supervisors to give support and participate in the evaluation process. Their involvement also shows that they are serious about such training and therefore encourages the trainees to participate actively in the program.

The staff time required to conduct the evaluation makes up a large portion of the expense for the organizations. The cost of hiring a specialist to direct and manage the review can be another expense to take into account. The organization must weigh the benefits that could come from the examination of behavior changes after the training against the cost of not doing so. For very small organizations and for those who have significant budget constraints, it can be helpful to determine how many times a particular training will be delivered. It can be an important point of consideration for deciding whether or not to do an evaluation. Spending effort and money on training that will only be conducted once and not again is not justifiable amidst such constraints.

💡 Defining the Key Indicators:

Measuring the effectiveness and transference of the skills into behavior is also important for showcasing the ROI and improvements in other desired result areas to the leaders and stakeholders. Given the difficulty of accurately quantifying the worth of such training assessments in terms of money, it is essential to identify and define key indicators or factors that enable visibility of the effectiveness and positive ROI. Define such indicators (reduction in grievances, improved speed, and quality, improved customer experiences, reduction in wastage or costs, etc.) before the training and convey and train the stakeholders to make observations and later quantify them accordingly.

💡 The ‘Before’ Evaluations:

The before and after training evaluation method matters a lot when it comes to evaluation of behavioral skills. Some people already exhibit the attributes necessary for the desired conduct, some need a little awareness while others completely lack them. That is why it is important to assess the particular behavioral aspect before the training also, so that not only can it be ascertained that there is a behavior change but also to what extent the change has occurred.

💡 Giving Ample Time & Spacing Evaluation Surveys Appropriately:

It's crucial to give participants the chance to use their new behavior at work before you can assess any behavioral changes in them. Opportunities may present themselves immediately after returning to work in certain cases, but not always and not as regularly as needed to accurately gauge change. And even if the participants frequently get a chance to apply their new behavior in the workplace, it is still required to let appropriate time pass before assessing the participants' behavioral changes.

Some individuals alter their behavior over the course of six months or a year, while others never do. For this reason, it's crucial to repeat the evaluation at the proper intervals. It can be challenging to define an acceptable period but the trainer should consider the type of behavior, the environment at work, and other circumstances that are particular to the case. Typically, the initial review takes place two to three months after the training is complete and the next perhaps after six more months.

💡 Take Multi-Source Feedback and Use Control Groups:

It is best to practice combining a self-report evaluation with an observable evaluation method from others (360-degree or 90-degree feedback depending on time and budget constraints) in the organization, if the evaluation's main focus is work behavior. It's a good idea to first identify anyone who often interacts with the learner and can watch his daily conduct. i.e. these people should have meaningful insight into how the training participant behaves at work.

As all the participants in the evaluation survey respond to identical questions, the issues with utilizing solely self-report methods (The participants may not admit that their behavior has changed when he fills out the questionnaire or may even overrate themselves) may be avoided. It could come from coworkers, managers, employees' direct reports, colleagues, or even customers.

Additionally, it is a good idea to have control groups, especially in the case of behavioral training.Because this group does not participate in the training but has all of the key traits of the trainee group, its use can be well justified. It can serve the dual purposes of improving the evidence and boosting confidence that changes have certainly occurred.If any differences between the experimental group and the control group can be determined after the evaluation surveys, then it can be clearly said that the learning has indeed occurred because of the training program. The creation of such control groups, however, is impractical for smaller organizations and is only easily implemented in the larger ones.

💡 Design a Solid Questionnaire:

The design of the survey questionnaire and how it is administered, is very important to the evaluation process as a whole. The ideal approach is to link the questions with the previously established learning objectives. Questions should help in analyzing all the expected behaviors that the trainees should have after the training. Use suitable scaling or alternative responses and include the managers or other stakeholders when creating the questionnaire, if necessary.

Set up a brief meeting or send a written communication to all the participants outlining the survey's objectives, the best ways to answer them, and encouraging them to ask questions if necessary. Informing trainees that they will be filling out these questionnaires at the start of the session is a good idea if you are evaluating in terms of initial reactions immediately after the training. This enables participants to think about their comments while providing more in-depth responses. Also, reiterate the importance of being truthful in your remarks while administering any questionnaire. You don't want trainees to give polite responses instead of their honest feelings.

Lack of Motivation Amongst Employees:

When it comes to learning behavioral skills the motivation and interests amongst employees are naturally less as compared to technical skills whose value can be substantiated and whose applications are clear and well-defined. Moreover, the lack of behavioral skills is difficult to ascertain even for the individuals themselves. As such, the training and development team should be talking extra efforts into the propagation of its importance.

When it comes to learning behavioral skills the motivation and interests amongst employees are naturally less as compared to technical skills whose value can be substantiated and whose applications are clear and well-defined. Moreover, the lack of behavioral skills is difficult to ascertain even for the individuals themselves. As such, the training and development team should be talking extra efforts into the propagation of its importance.

💡 Establish Clear Learning Objectives and Outcomes:

In many firms, efforts to communicate training objectives to employees often fall short. Trainers or managers have the erroneous assumption that staff members already understand the advantages, which makes the entire learning strategy unclear. When a company develops a training program, the learners must comprehend the necessity of training.

What does the training mean for them and how will they benefit from the learning outcome should be addressed straightforwardly so that it becomes easier for them to put into practice the acquired behavioral skills later after the training. Presenting the benefits that the training program's objectives deliver not only helps to design and include appropriate content and suitable teaching style, but it also helps to lay the groundwork for measuring the training's efficacy.

💡 Market the Training Program:

As important as it is to convey the objectives, attention should also be paid to the reach of the information on upcoming training programs across the organization. Create a buzz around the program and encourage employees to participate actively. When it comes to behavioral training, not all employees are open to conveying and addressing their need for it. Creating a supportive learning culture for behavioral skills is very important. Involving the leadership and acquiring their support to join in the propagation of the benefits of such training can have a huge impact on an employee's motivation to undertake such training.

Difficult to Sustain the Behavioral Skills:

The best indication that behavioral skill training is effective is when learning results in long-lasting changes in behavior. Technical skills are easier to learn and maintain through training than behavioral skills since there are well-defined and clear application areas for them. The decision of whether to use behavioral skills in a certain scenario or not necessitates more effort, which can be challenging for an individual at first.

💡 Supportive Managers and Supervisors:

Managers or supervisors who are rather reluctant to change behavior or who are not effectively conveyed and trained to avail their subordinates opportunities for applying the newly learned skills and allow for their application at appropriate times can impair transference of learning. Since it can be challenging for an individual to approach problems with a newly learned perspective and attitude, support and encouragement for the new behavior should be fostered and coached from time to time within teams by the supervisors and managers to ensure sustainable behavioral change.

💡 Reduce/Remove Bottlenecks:

Sustaining the desired behavioral change can be facilitated by concentrating on reducing frictions, removing obstacles, and making the desired behavior easier to carry out. The easier you make it for your employees to practice their new behaviors, the faster it can be assimilated into their natural behavior. Therefore, comprehending the behavioral constraints that an individual or a team is facing is a must.

For instance, are the deadlines always too tight to apply new behaviors or restrict creativity, or are there too many defined rules and processes around tasks that is limiting behavioral experimentation or is the manager not too supportive of application of the new behavior by the subordinates and instead focuses on his designed strategy rigidly, or is there a bias towards the gains of the current undesired but practiced behavior etc. Find out the problems that can hinder the sustainability of learned behaviors and work on removing them.

💡 Timely Reinforcements:

After the training while some individuals are able to strengthen the desired behavior, some may become complacent and forgetful to keep applying learnings so that it becomes natural. As such, timely reinforcements in the form of microlearning sessions or even assessments can help to sustain the behavior.

Difficulty in ‘Needs Assessment’:

Need assessment for behavioral skills is challenging because it is difficult for the managers or supervisors to observe and identify them. Moreover employees may not be vocal and straightforward to convey a need for such training. Specific assessments that must be administered to identify the lack of them in an individual is expensive and time-consuming. However, creating an environment of a supportive learning culture where employees are forthcoming to convey their needs for behavioral skill training can help with this.

💡 Analysis of Need at Project/Organizational Level:

Identifying which skills are important for a specific project or department or your organization instead of individual employee-based need assessments helps especially when you have budget constraints. Conduct training sessions for these skills often at appropriate times and encourage your employees to attend the training programs.


While there are many challenges to conducting behavioral training effectively, continuous efforts should be made towards addressing them. It is important to acknowledge that these skills play a huge role in improving both individual and organizational performance and though its impact on the bottom line cannot be easily and exactly quantified, it is surely and significantly present there. It's also crucial to realize that no program for behavioral training and development is effective until the objectives and benefits are clearly communicated, the results are accurately analyzed, and the leadership supports and encourages attendance across the organization. Therefore, having a systematic approach to measurement and assessment, and a supportive learning culture in the organization is essential for achieving consistent success with such initiatives!

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