When you think of making an investment, what is the deciding factor on whether or not you will make a good choice? Would you agree that it’s the rate of return you receive? Say we’re talking about your 401(k): Would you be pleased if you received a 10 percent return? What if it was a 12, 15, or even 18 percent return? Would you consider that a great investment choice? Now shift to the investments you’re making in training for your employees. What type of return are you getting?

If you send one of your employees to a typical total-immersion training event, you may be investing anywhere from $2,000-5,000 by the time you add up the cost of training, travel, wages, and lost revenue. In return, you’ll most likely see about a 22 percent increase in performance; however, that bump is relatively short lived. Statistics show that five weeks after training, the performance increase shrinks to about 11 percent and from there gradually evaporates back to baseline levels. Doesn’t sound like a very good investment, does it? It doesn’t have to be that way. You can make a difference with a commitment to coaching and ride-alongs immediately after the training.

Coaching through ride-alongs will not only sustain the performance increase from training, but will amplify it fourfold. What’s even better is that the performance increase from ride-alongs is sustained — as long as you continue to do them. So why are so many managers not taking advantage of this ultimate investment? Put simply, time. There’s always some pressing task that falsely masquerades as more important, and ride-alongs get pushed to the end of the to-do list. But it begs this question: Are there really so many other tasks that have an 88 percent impact on performance, or are we becoming victim to poor prioritization and time management?

Time is all about perception and choice. We can choose to view it either as a dictator that holds us hostage, or as a tool we use to determine which important things will be accomplished. I encourage you to choose the latter, to make the choice to do ride- alongs, and to maximize the return on the investment in your people. You may be wondering, “What do I do during ride-alongs?” Don’t worry, I’ve got you covered in next month’s article, in which I’ll discuss getting everyone comfortable with their roles in the ride-along.