Tricks for Training Transfer


One of the great frustrations for trainers is to work hard in the classroom just to feel that, even though participants might have enjoyed the training in itself, it really just doesn’t make a different in the work place. If in the end, there is no lasting learning, people just don’t apply anything back in the workplace, and our work is all for nought.

And who wants to work for no results? I sure don’t.

There are a number of books on the topic of workplace transfer. I own several. They all offer useful ways to foster the transfer of learning. For example:

Before a training activity:

– Discuss learning objectives with direct supervisor (to focus attention and provide motivation for learning)

– Do some prework (to prime the pump so to speak)

During the training activity:

– Use ice-breakers to help participants disconnect from everyday concerns and focus better on learning

– Have participants draw up action plans to put into effect after training

– Have participants make explicit links between outcomes of activities and real life challenges

– Have participants work on their own cases to apply concepts and tools to real life right from the start

After training:

– Have learning teams or co-development group meetings

– Have coaching from the direct supervisor

– Have participant complete a project and report on it

I have yet to see any of those strategies really work though. There are so many things getting in the way, especially lack of time, both on the part of the participant and his/her direct supervisor. Neither corporate training department and HR have sufficient resources for follow-up and coaching.

So much effort wasted, it seems.

Some of the books in this area are nicely put together and are really useful. I was reading Barbara Carnes’ Making Learning Stick on the bus into town this morning. Good structure, clear how-to instructions, including alternatives (variations on a theme).

My early readings in this area included Mary Broad’s books. And then you can easily start looking at the literature on organizational development for a broader perspective on the possible impact of training as a tool for change.

And there you have it, I have almost psyched myself back up to thinking that my training sessions can make a difference and that I have to keep trying to make it happen, one day at a time (Day 3 of a team effectiveness workshop tomorrow!).


One response »

  1. Pingback: Participant Centered Training | Writerly Goodness

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