Picture yourself running into a participant who says, “Thanks so much for that last workshop. We adopted the process you covered in our department and it works like a charm.” The only problem with this scenario is that it doesn’t happen often enough. When an organization pays for training, what they’re really paying for is improved performance. If what happens in the training doesn’t transfer back to the workplace, people are not getting what they’ve paid for.
Here are seven tips to make sure that what happens in training transfers to the workplace:
1. Bring the right content into the classroom. Ensure the content in the training is relevant to the success of the participant back on the job, and is not something they already know how to do, or don’t need to do. Once the relevance of the content is clarified by the instructor, the result should be a motivated participant.
2. Structure relevant activities. Make sure what is done in the classroom relates closely to what must be done back on the job. The participant can easily see the relevance of job-realistic activities. If they are successful in completing these activities in the classroom they will be more comfortable trying them back on the job.
3. Have clear, work-related objectives. Although there are many types of objective statements (e.g. learning objectives, enabling objectives, etc.), a performance-oriented objective, briefly written (task, condition, and standard), lets the participant know what they’re expected to do, what they need in place to do it, and how well to do it when they are back on the job.
4. Use action plans. An action plan activity allows the individual participant to reflect on what has happened in training and how it can be used on the job. Identifying action items and writing them down implies a degree of commitment to implement them back on the job. Action plans can be updated periodically throughout the day.
5. Build in peer reviews. A review done by the participants instead of the instructor reinforces the learning through discussion and reflection.
6. Have the participants identify key takeaways. A brief discussion at the end of training by the participants sharing what they consider to be the key takeaways from the session may reinforce some of the decisions already made, or suggest to other participants things of value that had not occurred to them.
7. Conduct a relapse prevention session. Once the participants have identified the key takeaways have them:
- individually, identify the top three takeaways that can most readily be implemented,
- individually, take a few minutes to identify likely obstacles to implementation, and strategies to overcome the obstacles,
- in small groups, share their findings for review and suggestions.
None of these ideas are “magic bullets,” but each should result in more benefit for the training dollars spent. As a bonus, I’ve included the How to Maximize Your Learning Checklist to help you establish an employee’s responsibility for learning before, during, and after a course. Help maximize training transfer!