Training Evaluation on Behavior Modelling

How to set up, run and evaluate a training program based on behavior modeling principles. At St. Luke’s Hospital Center, 108 supervisors have improved their skills, thanks to behavior modeling. The program is so successful that some of us have spent our va¬cations offering the technique at other organizations. Employees of an international insurance company, a multinational shipping firm and more than 20 health care institutions have benefited from our classes alone, and dozens of large and small consulting firms now offer supervisory training that utilizes behavior modeling techniques.

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You’ve probably read other recent testimonials to the concept of learning by imitating the behavior of models. Numerous publications ranging from TRAINING (June 1978) and Business Week (May 8, 1978) to the Journal of Nursing Administration (April 1978) have explained how and why the pro¬cess works. But these and other arti¬cles generally have steered clear of the nitty gritty details of how you go about setting up, running and evaluating a training program that revolves around behavior modeling. I would like to do just that.

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First, I suggest that you read Changing Supervisor Behavior, by Arnold P. Goldstein and Melvin Sorcher; this is the theoretical framework for the technique. Next, read one of the many good books that stress improving communications through increased empathy, respect and warmth. One particularly good one is Human Relations Development-A Manual for Health Sciences, by George Gazda, Richard Walters and Williams Childers.

A further review of the literature shows the variety of situations that respond to behavior modeling. At St. Luke’s, we use seven frequently:
• greeting the new employee
• introducing a new policy or pro¬cedure
• improving poor work habits
• improving poor performance
• the discipline interview
• performance appraisal
• reducing conflict between two subordinates

Your organization’s records and needs analysis may indicate other situations that require the employee to make a positive individual com¬mitment to alter his or her behavior. Analyze how your best supervisors handle these situations. Compare them with your worst supervisors. From these extremes of behavior, you can identify key points (usually five to seven) in the best supervisors’ com¬munications process for each situa¬tion.

Generally, these key points include:
• greeting the employee warmly and appropriately
• identifying the situation being discussed
• soliciting the employee’s sugges¬tions for improvement
• writing down those suggestions the employee chooses as most likely to be effective
• setting a follow-up date to review the situation
• expressing confidence in the employee’s ability to handle the situation properly

For each problem situation, adapt the key steps to reflect the language of that interaction.

Develop a script for a model interview between supervisor and em¬ployee, for each situation. The script should model the supervisor’s behavior, not the policy or procedure—hence the term “behavior modeling.” Because the model stresses the process of the interview, not the content, it requires a certain brevity and pace that are not necessarily realistic. The model will be attacked in class if it contains too many references to or-ganizational policies and document-able facts.

In the script, the supervisor should cover each key step in sequence. He should not move onto the next step until the prior one has been completed. The listener should hear the super¬visor control the interviewer’s pace. The subordinate should do most of the talking, but the supervisor stays in command.

Now, videotape your model inter¬views. (Using videotape recording and playback equipment is, of course, op¬tional but it makes the next step much more effective.)

Don’t worry if your players don’t fol¬low your scripts. What’s important is that the model follows the key steps for each interaction. If it does, then en¬courage your actors to use their own words and mannerisms.

At St. Luke’s, we began with super¬visors from one department. We have since done groups from many depart¬ments and, on occasion, from more than one institution. We also mix ex¬perience with inexperience. Members of the group, however, must have diffi¬culty with the same interactions.

At this point, our needs analysis is not complicated. Of our prospective participants, we ask, “What do you want to do better?” In a separate meet¬ing, we ask their managers, “What do you want them to do better?” Each group will use words like “morale” and “motivation”; get them to speak in terms of specific interactions, and you will find a remarkable degree of agreement between the two groups. You may have to bridge some minor gulfs, but the two will tell you quickly which of your models you will use— and if you will have to make more.

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I prefer to do this needs analysis or¬ally, rather than by questionnaire. This lets me probe below the gener¬ality and also lets me explain what I’ll be doing. But you can use printed sur¬veys before the meetings, if you wish.

Groups size in our classes has varied from four to twenty. The bigger the class, the longer each session lasts. We find 10 is the best size. Classes are at least two hours long and meet once a week. The participant receives a notice of time, place and topic for each class but no preliminary reading.

The first class is devoted to explain¬ing in detail the program’s specifics. The camera is turned on, and goup is seen on the monitor, but noth¬ing is recorded. When the group is comfortable with the TV, we turn off the equipment. The remainder of the class is spent reviewing the duties of a supervisor, the importance of com¬munication skills and the techniques of effective listening. Because the class is to learn behavior, not theory, the latter is never mentioned.

Each week thereafter, we cover another interaction. The format of each class is similar:
• Distribute the key steps, read them aloud, answer questions about them (10 minutes).
• Show the model tape for that in¬teraction (10 minutes).
• Talk about the model (5 minutes).
• Have the class in pairs, rehearse the model behavior; after 10 min¬utes, reverse the pairs, so each person is the supervisor (20 min¬utes).
• Turn on the television and record a pair rehearsing. At the end of the rehearsal, ask the “super¬visor” for his review; then solicit remarks from the “employee.” Play back the tape. Allow com¬ments from anyone in the room (30 minutes).

Who goes on the tape? Everyone plays the supervisor at least once. Who goes first? Ask for volunteers. No vol¬unteers? I pick the least aggressive person in the room to star as the supervisor first.

What order for the interactions? Start with the least threatening, and end with the most threatening. Do at least five; the key points are basically repetitive, and five weeks are needed for the rehearsals to be learned effec¬tively.

What is the pass-out material? Only the key steps for each week. Partici¬pants should refer to these as they re¬hearse and be encouraged to have them handy on the job. We also have these key steps in a check-off form and may distribute this to encourage the class to follow the televised rehear¬sals.

At one time, participants also re¬ceived brief outlines of situations to use as they rehearse. But we discarded these because few were used. Or, if they were, the actors got involved in our written words and not their oral ones. It’s best to let them use their own styles of communication to cover key points effectively.

Who acts in the ‘model tapes? Any¬one who is believable. At one time, we used actors from each department as we trained in it, but this had little effect and wasn’t worth the effort.

What about tests? The final class is a test, both written and behavioral. Participants arrive alone, complete the written test (on communication skills, not theory) and choose one of three situations. After a few moments to prepare, a tape is made; the instruc¬tor usually plays the employee. Total time is about 30 minutes.

Who works the TV equipment? No one. In reality, the trainer turns it on to play the model and then puts on the tape that records the rehearsals. Operating time takes no more than two or three minutes.

Evaluations can take the form of written tests, rehearsal tapes and/or the final test tapes. At St. Luke’s, we rely most heavily on the final test tapes. Participants are graded on: con¬trol of the interaction, ability to move the employee to a positive response to the problem and ability to follow the key steps.

Outside the classroom, statistical follow-up reveals that problems do re¬spond to the program. For example, new employee turnover decreases when participants study orientation of new employees.

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Validation? In December 1977, we requested nine randomly chosen graduates (10% of our total), trained from January 1975 to June 1977, to visit our training department. Arriv¬ing singly, each was given a typed de¬scription of a problem: One of their employees had a pattern of recent Monday lateness. After a few mo¬ments preparation, each indicated a willingness for the interview to begin. A trainer played the employee.

Some “testees” were stern and dis¬ciplinary, and some were paternalistic and helping. Each revealed his own personality and used his own com¬munications style in the interview. Each graded high in interactive control, employee contribution and fal¬lowing key steps. Even those who had participated three years earlier and who had received no overt reinforce¬ment from training scored well.

For before-and-after comparisons, these interviews were compared with the first taped rehearsal interview of each “testee.” Non training adminis¬trators scored each pair of interviews. In each case, “after” scored higher. Re¬tention of skills, even after 35 months, was significant.

At St. Luke’s, where the technique is called “behavior rehearsal,” we stress rehearsal rather than the model. It is rehearsal time that allows the participant to make mistakes in the classroom, not the work room. Re¬hearsal lets each person explore how best to play the role illustrated by the models.

Source : Terence O’Connor. January 1979. Training Magazine.

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