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Ensuring Training Success - Transfer of Learning


As was highlighted in Jennifer Walkey’s blog from May 3, 2010, training should be a strategic investment into one’s business and employees as it has a direct effect on the bottom line and productivity of a business. Often, once training is identified as the solution, the event is forgotten about. An employee (or employees) go through the training, come back to work and nothing changes or improves. What happens? Well, the answer is simple:  transfer of training (or transfer of learning) has not taken place. It is one thing to learn something, but quite another to actually apply what was learned. A manager may end up blaming the employee for not using what they have learned, but it may not be entirely the fault of the employee.

Once training has been identified as the right solution to address a need within the organization, the training needs to be embraced by not only the participants, but by their management and their leadership. For true change to happen, learning needs to move from the classroom environment to the work environment. Here are some ways to improve transfer of training:

  • Before Training: Involve the employee in their development process. Whether it is an individual or group training event, the manager can brief the employee(s) on what they will be learning and what the expectation is in terms of changes after the training. The manager can describe how he or she intends to support the employee(s) in using their knowledge once they are back in the work environment. This sets up expectations for the employee(s) to use what they learn.
  • During Training: Ensure the training is a well designed event that incorporates adult learning principles, involves the right participants, is linked to organizational goals and is relevant to the employee’s role. Proper design of the event includes people being able to see the purpose in the learning, the WIIFM (“what’s in it for me”) i.e. how it connects to their day to day lives at work and gives them an opportunity to explore their learning through practice.
  • After Training: Ensure that the learning is followed up on. For example, the manager may debrief the training with the employee(s), to discover what they learned and challenge them on how they will use it back at work. The discussion can include a tie back to what the manager expects as a result of the investment, their recommitment to support the employee and an exploration of what the employee(s) need from him or her to apply their learning.

Training should not be thought of as the “silver bullet” solution. Any training event, large or small, needs to be integrated with a well thought out change or improvement program.  Using the above ideas can help to ensure return on your training investment.

For more information on how MNP can help your organization achieve the changes you want through training, please contact your local MNP Consultant.

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