Magazine article Talent Development

Strategic Techniques to Enhance Training Transfer: Using Methods That Are Known to Influence Behavior Will Increase On-the-Job Application of Learning

Magazine article Talent Development

Strategic Techniques to Enhance Training Transfer: Using Methods That Are Known to Influence Behavior Will Increase On-the-Job Application of Learning

Article excerpt

According to research, a mere 20 percent of training content ultimately is used at work. The extent to which it is used is referred to as "training transfer." Many assume that to increase training transfer, trainers must focus on what to do within the training environment (for example, the classroom or meeting room). However, focusing only on those factors will achieve modest results at best.

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What trainers are attempting to do when delivering training is influence their audience members' behaviors back in their local environment, after the training event. Therefore, successful training requires an understanding of how to influence behavior and a focus on coaching people during, before, and after training.

Effective training is about creating the conditions for successful training transfer, and leaders can help create those conditions. Increasing the likelihood that employees are using what they've learned can have an enormous downstream impact on the entire organization. Imagine the potential impact in going from 20 percent transfer of training to 50 percent or more.

By using certain behavior management techniques (BMTs), leaders can increase the impact--and the return-on-investment--of training.

What it is

Research in behavioral science suggests that the environment people live and work in is set up to support the behaviors they are exhibiting. The best way to keep people doing the same things is to keep their environment the same. So, the best way to influence behavior, and thus training transfer, is to create an environment in which exhibiting the taught behaviors receives support.

BMTs allow you to arrange your environment in a way that supports and sustains new behaviors. These techniques blend behavioral science with project management techniques, and are used to get people to do things because they want to, not because they have to. To properly use BMTs, identify the results you want, the behaviors necessary to achieve these results, and how to manage the environment to support change.

Guidelines

Although the following guidelines were written with training in business and industry in mind, they also apply to teaching new skills to virtually anybody in any setting. Some of the most successful leaders are people who have taken their knowledge of behavioral science and applied it outside of the workplace.

Some common situations where BMTs have been applied outside the workplace include at home (parenting), school (child education), coaching (athletics or otherwise), and even in personal relationships.

Clarify expectations. Meet with members of your team on a one-on-one basis at least a week before the training event and set clear expectations. Discuss why they are attending the training program, what they should learn, and what expectations you have of them once training is complete.

Coach, support, and follow up. As a leader, you should review the training material first. If the training is longer than a day, you may want to consider supporting the trainees by holding brief meetings to discuss any barriers to training transfer.

As a rule of thumb, face-to-face meetings are most effective. Follow up with employees after the training event to keep the momentum going. …

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