The research on training transfer seems to get more and more complicated. In the most recent “meta-study” (a summary and analysis of all recent research), the authors commented that due to the multi-faceted nature of transfer – context, topic, environment, trainee characteristics, training design, etc. – workplace learning professionals should expect to use multiple strategies specific to their organizations that will work together to enhance training transfer.
A few months ago I surveyed you readers of Sticky Notes, asking what strategies and techniques you use to make your training stick. I received some interesting replies, but not one of the replies mentioned using more than one strategy or technique. Maybe if I’d asked the question differently those who responded would have shared multiple techniques, but I doubt it. Don’t get me wrong, I’m delighted to hear about the use of ANY techniques to increase transfer! But as this new meta-study research is now telling us – and common sense would also dictate – using just one strategy or technique for training transfer, no matter how good it is, is probably not enough.
Further, adopting techniques without carefully considering participants and the culture doesn’t work for training transfer techniques any more than it does for most other HR and HRD practices including recruiting, performance management, and coaching, to name a few.
Here’s a way to organize your training transfer strategies. Mary Broad and John Newstrom in their book, Transfer of Training,
(unfortunately no longer in print) identified 3 key time periods that are important for training transfer: before, during, and after the training. They also identified 3 key roles: the manager of the trainee, the trainer, and the trainee. They put these time periods and roles on a matrix and went on to identify the most powerful time/role combinations for training transfer, as well as the most frequently used time/role combinations. For more information on the matrix and this research, please download my research report: Time Periods and Roles That Make Training Stick.
These time periods and roles can be helpful for you to plan multiple strategies and techniques to make training stick. Previous Sticky Notes have included specific techniques for each time period and each role. My books include detailed step-by-step instructions for many techniques to make training stick. Choose from them or develop your own, as you plan the best things to make your training stick:
- What can you do before the learning event, to build positive expectations and help participants understand what they will learn and how they can use it in their jobs?
- What can you do during the learning event, to make sure they focus on applying what they are learning?
- What can you do after the learning event, to reinforce what they have learned, and help them with application?
- What can you do to encourage the manager of the trainee, to help participants be accountable for using what they learn?
- Which training techniques can you be sure to use in the training to help participants apply the learning, in the classroom and back on the job?
If you ask all five of these questions each time you design or plan a training program, coaching, or other learning event, you will greatly increase the effectiveness of your training, and it will be much more likely to stick.