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Training Transfer Tip
Submitted by Leslie Allan on September 26th, 2011
Here’s a tip for helping your training program participants apply the skills they learned back on the job. Near the end of your program, ask your participants to form pairs. Introduce the exercise with the observation that it is not always easy for them to apply newly learned skills once they return to work. They may forget, deadlines may press upon them, tools may be inadequate, etc. Ask them to imagine a time when they did successfully apply a new skill in the face of challenges. Then ask each person to take it in turns to ask their partner the following three questions:
At that time in the past, what helped you apply your new skills?
How would you apply those helpers to the skills you are learning now?
What would your job look like if you did that?
If a person can’t think of a time they overcame challenges, then ask them to think of a time when they saw other people overcome challenges. This exercise draws upon some powerful principles. Telling a story about past success helps draw an emotional bond with the subject of the story. Sharing each others’ stories fosters social learning. Focusing on the positive (what worked well) is a stronger driver of future behavior than highlighting the negative. You may have noticed that for this exercise, I draw upon some key principles common to Appreciative Inquiry.
To take this a step further, ask each pair to share their key learnings with the rest of the group. If you are running a number of sessions as part of a larger course, conduct this exercise at intermediate points along the course. Relate each exercise to the application of the skills they have just learned.
I do want to emphasize that this exercise does not absolve participants’ managers and trainers from their responsibility to work together to create a workplace environment that supports the application of learning. Successful learning transfer depends on motivated participants and a supportive workplace. It’s not either-or. It’s both.
If you want to create the right learning environment for effective transfer of training to the employee’s workplace, then check out our high impact training guide, From Training to Enhanced Workplace Performance. Learn proven strategies and techniques for finding performance roadblocks, aligning training to real needs, developing training partnerships, engaging learners and maximizing learning transfer. Find out more about From Training to Enhanced Workplace Performance and download the free introductory chapter today.