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Making Financial Training Stick

Training Directors’ Forum e-Net
JULY 26, 2007

You’ve trained your employees to understand the numbers side of your business. What’s next? Don’t make the all-too-common mistake of offering training—and stopping there, advise most business literacy experts. Instead, devise a post-training reinforcement strategy that ensures your workers understand and use the numbers you’ve taken such care to teach them.

Here’s a look at what some organizations are doing to integrate the “numbers” of their business into workers’ daily lives—long after financial training ends.


“Dollars and Sense,” a feature article published in the June 2007 issue of TDF e-Net sister publication Training magazine, features case studies of post-financial-training reinforcement programs at companies such as Southwest Airlines, Mac’s Convenience Stores, MacDermid Inc., and others. These companies succeed in the financial training arena, according to the article, because they hold workers accountable for using what was learned; develop a common, easy-to-understand language surrounding their metrics; and regularly communicate the numbers to employees—allowing them to see how their actions impact the company’s financial well-being on an ongoing basis.


After the Business Literacy Institute in Calabasas, Calif., implemented business literacy training for a major pharmaceutical company, Money Maps® depicting the financial results of various departments were developed and posted for all to see. Manufacturing employees, for example, were able to reference the Money Maps to determine the financial implications of the manufacturing process, including their own contributions and the impact that their mistakes and successes had on those in front of and behind them in the manufacturing line.

At a delivery company where employees lacked a big-picture perspective, meanwhile, Money Maps were used to visually depict “difficult to read” income statements. The Maps also illustrated employees’ daily process and the positive or negative impact of their activities on the company’s results and profit sharing. The company’s financial goals also were printed on the Maps, and every month the actual results were added in to illustrate workers’ progress in achieving company goals.


To accomplish the same objective, ABX Air Inc., an all-cargo airline headquartered in Wilmington, Ohio, put approximately 850 of its managers through Paradigm Learning Inc.’s Zodiak business simulation, an interactive training program designed to help participants learn financial basics. During the program, teams of players become new owners of the fictitious Zodiak Services, a business services provider. They sign for a bank loan, attract investors, and begin delivering services to customers. Over a simulated three-year period, they handle problems, make decisions and—at the end of each year—prepare and analyze income statements and balance sheets to understand the impact of their choices and bring terms like cash flow, profit margins, return on equity, cost of goods sold, and assets to life.

But ABX doesn’t rest on the training program’s laurels alone. Post-training, it goes a step further to hold managers accountable for their learning and ensure that workers change the way they view—and do—their jobs. At the end of each session, for example, participants are expected to develop an action plan that identifies three activities they could perform to contribute to ABX Air’s financial goals. Then, after two weeks, they meet with their manager and these activities become formally integrated into their jobs as part of their individual development plan.

DO YOU HAVE OTHER GREAT EXAMPLES…of post-financial-training reinforcement programs or techniques? If so, we want to hear from you! Send your insights or tips in an e-mail to with the subject line “FINANCIAL TRAINING,” and we’ll try to include your input in an upcoming issue.

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