Would you transfer funds from your account into an asset that does not enable you to measure its contribution to your business? That is effectively what you are doing when you send an employee on a training course without giving any thought to what you expect from your investment following the event.
In the training and development industry there are players who will take advantage of customers who are not educated in the identification of need and the transfer and application of training back into the work. These purchasers of training are easy prey for many training providers because they effectively ignore the responsibility upon themselves and the trainer for addressing the real issues impacting business and individual performance.
The consequence is that the trainer designs something generic that is inappropriate and fails to consider the learners needs and the organisations development requirements. The learner becomes confused and cannot make the connection between what is being delivered and its relevance to the job role. People only develop competence only after they recognise the relevance of their own incompetence in the skill concerned.
Whoever purchased the training slowly reinforces the reputation shared by managers in the business that training and development is making little difference to business or personal performance.
Transfer This Before You Purchase Training that makes No Difference
Many customers assume that a training and development intervention will automatically lead to a change in employee/team behaviour or performance, and therefore take no responsibility to take initiative to ensure that happens. You might as well make a fire and throw your training budget onto it as commission a training event that makes no measurable difference.
So, why focus on transfer?
- To ensure a return on your investment which can be measured in terms of business benefit
- To encourage and empower learners to apply the learning
- To ensure accountability for implementation
Who can contribute To encouraging learning transfer?
Three groups of people influence the transfer of learning process at three distinct timescales:
Before Training Management Interventions
The Manager plays a vital role in clarifying expectations with an employee by agreeing outcomes prior to the training. Without the perception by the trainee of the need for new behaviours, there is no motivation to change and, therefore, no readiness to learn. An Epic Failure! Managers who reinforce the new or changed performance expectations prior to a training event enable participants who are ready to learn when the training program is offered and who are able to articulate their learning needs during the event.
Before Training – Involve The Trainer
There are many benefits to involving the trainer prior to the training event. Research clearly demonstrates pre-exposure to learning through an intervention designed to reach out to learners prior to the training can significantly accelerate the likelihood of learning.
Trainee readiness can be developed via a number of methods designed to generate curiosity and interest in advance of the training session. Techniques include attractively packaged pre-course materials distributed before the start of the program including descriptions of how the program fits into the mission of the organization, how and why the training impacts their role. Examples of prerequisites prior to training include: pre course competitions, quizzes or simple self-assessment exercises that allow trainees to score themselves and identify areas for potential development
These activities help to introduce key concepts which generate interest and enthusiasm, and connect the content to the employee’s expected future contribution to the organisation; this ensures the training has meaning for the employee. Involving the trainer at this stage almost certainly contributes to ensuring the design of the training is practical, targeted at developing the competencies required by the business and relevant to individual development needs.
During the Training
Goal setting is a powerful motivational tool. Trainees can build goal setting into their learning strategy by committing themselves to sit down for a few moments at the end of the session to answer the questions what will I do with what I have learned, how can my manager support me? What can I do more of, less of, what do I need to do differently, and what performance improvements/goals can I identify that would tell me I was doing things better?
Transfer of learning occurs when learning in one context with one set of materials impacts on performance in another context or with other related material
Following the Training
Managers, team leaders and supervisors can make a valuable contribution to ensuring learning transfer following the training event by providing on the job reinforcement and opportunity to support and encourage trainees to apply training. Simple steps include removing interference in the immediate environment, to ensure that employees are able to practice their skills without encountering obstacles (real or imagined) in their way. One to one discussions help to identify opportunity to apply and further develop new skills.
I frequently work for providers of public training programmes, whose sales personnel make little attempt to understand their client’s business and what drives business strategy, consequently with little information to inform the design of training, the output is a generic programme which fails to meet the specific needs of the attendees and only a very experienced training consultant can address the spontaneous needs of a diverse group of learners on the spur of the moment and in situ.
Generic “off the shelf” training which has not been designed to address a specific purpose impacting people in an organisation or develop specific competencies may increase an individual’s knowledge, but may not influence them or motivate them to apply the knowledge therefore making no difference!
Understanding real world issues such as the context and culture in which the new skills will be transferred before designing a development solution is the most important preparation a trainer can do. An organisation spending considerable money on training should ensure that the trainer is aware of the issues the training must address and the potential to apply the new skills and knowledge.
Find the best fit
It is essential to research the most appropriate methods to develop the skills that are critical to improving your situation; we can acquire learning in a variety of ways job-shadowing, coaching and mentoring, these methods are often under-used because organisations do not recognise their value to the learning transfer process. . Sadly, those clients who ask for specifics about how training and learning will impact on their organisations performance and how they might support this process are rare.perhaps their staff would benefit from one of our Managing Training and Development programmes to ensure that the training they commission is aligned to the needs of the organisation
If you want to ensure return on your investment as a result of your training activity take a look at some of our sample outlines and our Terrific Testimonials.