Retention Problems? Think: Time, Place and Pace for Effective Leader Training

Oct 19, 2022 | First Person

By Heather Polivka, founder of HeatherP Solutions and Awesome People Leaders and Membership Chair and 2022 Member of the Year of NAWBO Minnesota

Training is about more than building skills. It’s about retaining talent.

Change seems hard, yet we do it daily. If we grew up with “appointment TV,” we made the switch to streaming. If we started with email, now it’s all about the IMs and the DMs. And at work, from recruiting to compensation, how we hire, manage and promote is much different than it was even pre-COVID, let alone decades ago. We’ve adapted.

But one thing that stays stubbornly stuck in the past—training. People-leader training continues to be treated as a “nice-to-have” and “check-the-box” exercise versus an integral tool for employee retention, productivity and corporate culture.

One reason is that training continues to be delivered using outdated methods. In today’s fast-paced workplace, classroom training or a portal full of videos showing people in suits is so outdated it’s not even retro cool.

How can your organization update its training to meet the expectations of today’s workforce and help those leaders truly lead?

The 4 Ps of Effective Training

Place: With teams spread out, either between multiple offices or in a hybrid situation, classroom training can quickly drain a budget and irritate employees who now work remotely. Make training accessible wherever and whenever it works best. That means mobile delivery and self-paced modules are a must.

Pace: Ever wonder why you can’t remember what was discussed an hour ago? No one can! We lose an average of 50 percent of information within an hour, according to “Ebbinghaus’s Forgetting Curve,” and within a day, it’s as high as 70 percent of new information. Look for training content delivered in bite-sized chunks. Not only does that improve retention, it also reduces the friction of feeling pressed for time: “How can I fit in a 2-hour training this week?!”

Peers: Another key feature is an online community. Most organizations don’t have the internal resources to scale guidance or support. Look for training programs that offer leaders a network of peers dealing with similar issues and experienced business leaders to help guide. Not only does peer learning work, but a network can also provide answers much more quickly (and in real-life language) than a list of FAQs.

Practical application: Theory is important; so is practice. Look for training that provides the context, history and frameworks around key concepts, and also builds in time to apply the learning. Together those components combine to make learning last.

With so many resources for training available, the challenge isn’t finding one. It’s knowing what kind of training will help your people leaders effectively engage employees, prevent burnout and retain talent. In other words, how to take training from an overhead expense to a bottom-line benefit.


About the Author…

Heather Polivka is a trusted business advisor accelerating the growth and success of progressive SMBs and their leaders through practical leadership, employee performance and thriving workplace cultures. She is founder of Awesome People Leaders as well as HeatherP Solutions based in Richfield, Minnesota. She is also Membership Chair of NAWBO Minnesota and is proud to have been named the chapter’s 2022 Member of the Year. Learn more about HeatherPSolutions at and Awesome People Leaders at


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