At Disney Institute, we believe training is a vital component of organizational culture and a key ingredient in fostering strong employee engagement. However, what we've observed through our work over the past 30 years is that too many organizations tend to underestimate the amount of support people need in achieving desired levels of performance. Instead of investing the time and resources to effectively train and develop their employees, some organizations appear to simply hope that employees will become technically proficient and begin to demonstrate desired workplace behaviors over time. Well, I can assure you that hope alone is rarely a viable long-term strategy!

We have found that, to ensure employees can learn new skills and develop the behaviors that represent your desired workplace culture, training cannot be considered optional--instead, it must be operationalized and embedded into the values system of the organization. 

We have also seen that the way people are trained often sends powerful signals about what and who the organization values. Here are three important opportunities for any organization to send positive signals that reinforce the value of training: 

  1. Onboarding. Effective onboarding is crucial for both the employee and the company. New employees will make many judgments about an organization based on their first few days. It's important for onboarding to go beyond just the "how-to." Effective onboarding must also include an overview of why the organization exists and the details of its operations. By communicating the organization's common purpose and shared values, companies can help new hires see how they fit into the organizational culture and reaffirm their decision to work there. At Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, the very first training all new hires experience is called Traditions, which focuses on introducing Cast Members to our common purpose and quality standards, as well as the rich history and legacy of the Disney Company. More specific how-to training begins in the days following Traditions.
  2. Transitioning Positions. Periodically, employees transition into new positions, move from hourly to salaried roles, or take on team-leading responsibilities. In these cases, training is necessary to provide or strengthen the skills and behaviors necessary for success. Training also offers important opportunities to reinforce the organization's values and vision. 
  3. Continuous Learning & Development. Organizations that invest in the continual growth and well-being of employees tend to be more successful in the long run. Offering employees opportunities to further develop skills and improve leadership effectiveness sends a signal that the company genuinely cares about all employees. Those who do have the opportunity to continue to learn and develop tend to be more engaged, productive, and likely to stay with the company.                                                    

To help determine if training is being fully operationalized as part of your organization's culture, consider the signals being sent at key moments like these and ask yourself: 

  • What shared organizational values are being communicated during this training experience?
  • How does this training experience help employees understand the why as well as the how-to? 
  • How will this training further empower employees to deliver upon the organization's mission, vision, and common purpose?

 For more information, visit

Published on: Apr 12, 2018