Workshops don’t work.

I earn a living facilitating professional development — including lots of workshops! — yet I’ll be the first to tell you that workshops (alone) just don’t work.

Managers often rely on a workshop or a training session to assure employee compliance, or to remedy a performance concern. Some organizations will even schedule a workshop to improve morale or focus on team building. In most cases, there’s little or no sustainable change in employee behavior and leaders are left wondering what went wrong. After all, “they’ve been trained in this!”

While a skilled presenter can certainly share new ideas, teach a new strategy or specific methodology, or maybe even inspire learners to think differently, it’s unrealistic to expect that participation in a workshop will fundamentally change workplace behaviors. Significant, sustainable change relies on true growth and development — which requires two things: time and relationships. Specifically, it requires time to build trusting relationships and those relationships are a precursor to change.

With all that said, an engaging workshop facilitated by a specialist who is both dynamic and relatable can certainly be one step in your improvement plans. In fact, inspiring people to want to learn about the subject matter (and to embrace the desired “know better, do better” mindset) is often an essential first step toward change.

The next steps can’t be outsourced though; feedback and follow-through require a manager’s time and ongoing effort. Positive, sustainable changes in behavior require employee engagement; engagement rarely occurs without a manager’s investment in her people.

So YES, hire a dynamic speaker to inspire your team, share knowledge, and plant the seeds of change — but remember to nurture those seeds daily, if you expect them to grow.

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