Some experts estimate that only around 20% of training and training related investments lead to some form of organizational benefit. This issue is commonly referred to as the “problem of training transfer”. Why is it that such a small proportion of what was learnt during a training ends up being used back in the workplace? Well, in many cases it may not be the training per se, but the surrounding of it, the context in which the application of learning is enabled or hampered. So how can we improve the rate of learning transfer our organisations? Below is a list of the different actions you can take at different levels and that you can consider adopting to increase training transfer.
At organization level
Define where improvements are necessary in the organization (such as: increase in sales) and link this with a learning strategy, in collaboration with HR and training.
When considering the organisational changes needed differentiate between what can be achieved by training and learning and what cannot. Not everything can be solved by training.
Regularly communicate about the importance of continuous improvement and learning to individual and organizational success.
At department level (L&D and HR)
Consider individual, team and organizational learning needs when putting together the organizational learning strategy to ensure learning needs can be addressed. Do this in collaboration with senior managers and other departments.
Clearly identify the knowledge, skills and abilities a learning activity needs to develop in staff members.
Plan learning activities over a period of time so individuals have the opportunity to 1) digest what they have learnt, 2) practice how to best apply it to their context, and 3) display them consistently in the team and organization.
Set indicators to measure the effectiveness of learning activities in terms of improved performance on the job. Link these to the organizational strategy.
Line management level
Liaise with HR and L&D to assess which learning activities are better suited for staff members on the basis of their needs.
Suggest and set time for staff to participate in learning activities, as well as to apply their learning in the workplace.
Discuss with your team members individually how they can apply the new knowledge and skills. Highlight development opportunities such as engaging in projects, participating in working groups, or becoming ‘ambassadors’ for the topic within the organisation.
with your team create individual goals and action plans that are time bound, and that include specific milestones for applying the knowledge, skills and mindset they need to acquire through learning activities.
Review individual progress on the goals and action plan set together. Do this frequently (for example every 2 months) and don’t wait for the end of year evaluation to point its nose to do it.
Praise and recognize individual and team development efforts and application of learning to the workplace. Highlight the contribution of this to the team and to the organization.
Verify the effectiveness of learning by checking for improvements in staff performance. Partner with HR and L&D for this.
Individual level (staff)
Reassure yourself that learning and development activities are a positive and valuable investment from the organisation towards yourself. So, do commit and engage to it fully.
Discuss with your manager what are your tasks and goals, and set an action plan with an associated timeline for completion. Include specific milestones for applying the knowledge and skills you acquired (process and success milestones).
Share your key learning highlights with your peers. This can be done in multiple ways, as a presentation or team meeting, a report, or a as a help out to someone who is less experienced than you.
Offered to mentor other colleagues who are looking to enhance their knowledge in a similar area.
These were some examples of actions you can do internally to boost your learning transfer. There are many more you can do!