THERE are organisational costs to training — and not just financial costs but opportunity costs as well as other resources. Course participants invest their precious time and energy in the training; they are also taken out of their comfort zone and feel the stress of doing new things or doing familiar things in a new way.
So everybody wants the training to be successful and obtain its perceived benefits. But how do you ensure that training sticks? How do you ensure that the new skills, knowledge and attitudes learned are transferred back to the workplace? The key is planning for it.
For the successful transfer of learning to the workplace, one must develop a plan that encompasses three phases: the before, during, and after-the-training phases. Each of these phases is explored below:
Before the training
This is the key phase, when the overall plan is created. Unfortunately, in organisations of all sizes and in all industry sectors, it is frequently neglected.
The starting point, of course, is when the training need was identified, whether this was through a formal Training Needs Analysis (TNA) or as the solution to a performance problem.
The goal or objective the training is to achieve must be clearly identified. Any fuzziness will cause multiple problems such as unfocused training provision, lack of relevancy in the content and unclear success criteria.
Evaluation of training requires clear objectives to be set at the outset. So, spending time clarifying this with relevant line managers and those providing the training pays large dividends.
Also spell out the benefits of the training to the organisation, team and individual. The latter is most important because participants need to understand what is in it for them: Will they be able to do their job more easily or more productively, and if so, will there be a reward for doing so? Will they be able to take on more responsibility and thus improve themselves career-wise?
It is crucial that line managers are fully involved, regardless of how busy they undoubtedly are.
The training manager should make it clear that the line manager has the primary responsibility for ensuring that their staff are properly trained and that they must actively supervise the transfer of learning to the workplace.
They should also be assured of the training department’s support. So before the training, the line manager should discuss the overall objectives of the training with the participants and set clear goals for the individual participants.
This discussion should also include the benefits of the training to the team as well as to the individuals. The line manager should also briefly outline a plan to ensure that the learning and skills acquired are transferred back to the workplace.
The participants should be asked for their initial comments and be told that this discussion will be revisited after the training.
During the training
At the beginning of the training course (or seminar or module), the trainer should revisit the objectives of the training and briefly highlight its benefits.
While the trainer will ensure that the course is engaging and includes techniques to aid the retention of learning, the training manager (or training administrator or internal trainer) should ensure with the trainer that exercises and examples are specifically work related and relevant.
This will more easily facilitate the later transfer of learning to the workplace. A useful final exercise in the training is to have participants discuss how they will ensure that their new skills or knowledge will be transferred to the workplace.
Have them develop a plan that can feed into their post-training discussion with their line manager.
After the training
The line manager should meet with the training participants as they return to work and briefly discuss how the training went, what new skills or knowledge they learned and together agree on a plan of how the new skills will be transferred to the workplace.
As this was previously discussed before the training and participants also discussed it as the final exercise of the training, a feasible plan should quickly emerge. A review meeting should also be agreed in case things don’t go according to plan.
The before and after planning does not actually involve a lot of time for managers or training participants, but it is essential if training is to be successfully transferred to the workplace.
Training managers or administrators should ensure the involvement of both line managers and training participants in the process.
Article by Nigel Nolan, a senior consultant with Sandbox Advisors, a firm that helps people with careers, job search and training in Singapore. For more information, visit www.sandboxadvisors.com