Tips For A Successful ‘Transfer Of Training’ Program

Tips for a Successful ‘Transfer of Training’ Program
The term ‘transfer of training’ is often described as the process by which an organization’s leadership ensures that the required knowledge, skills, and attitudes of its employee force are readily transferred from a learning and incubation environment to actual beneficial changes in the field, on an everyday basis. 

Such training is generally linked to the overall goals and aims of the organization. There are certain tips that will help make sure that workshop training programs are actually transferred into the workplace:

The Right Material should be the Point of Focus in a Classroom Environment

This is a very important point indeed when it comes to transfer of training from a learning environment to its on-field implementation. The content of the training modules should be structured in such a manner that the employees being trained could gather tangible benefit from it. In other words, it should not be training for the purpose of training per se. 

Rather, it should offer relevance and value addition to the trainee so that he or she would be able to use for the tasks that need to be performed in the field. If they are being trained or made to acquire skills that they already possess, then the training would be rendered useless and an absolute waste of time.

Clear and Lucid Identification of Training Goals

Before the commencement of a training session it is imperative that all training material be reviewed beforehand and the goals of that particular session be clearly identified. 

Moreover, such goals need to be clear and concise and have to have specific time lines so that their implementation may be monitored later on. This way, the trainees would be able to understand just what it is that is required from them once the training workshop has ended.

Usage of Real World Examples and Case Studies

When training any organization’s employees it is very important real life case studies as well as examples be used. And moreover, these examples should be related to the industry and the field in which the trainees work so that they remain relevant to the work at hand. 

These examples may then be enacted with multiple teams acting out actual, real world scenarios so that they would be drilled enough to know just what action to take in the workplace.  


The Trainees should be Able to Clearly Identify Important Takeaways


Once the training sessions have been successfully completed, an informal discussion should be held between the trainees and their trainer as to what learning they have acquired and how precisely can they put it to good use in the field. 

Not only would it be help then recollect all the valuable aspects of the training, but their collective constructive feedback just bight help them figure out additional nuggets of valuable information that would may be prove to be helpful in the field.  

Not All Habits Are Bad

A pencil eraser is starting to erase the words: Bad Habits

Neuroscientists explain that not all habits are bad. The good ones allow you to function more efficiently…like driving to work without having to review the directions each time. They save both your time and energy.

New research by the University of California helps us understand, however, how the bad habits sometimes take over our activities and why they are so hard to break. What scientists learned from the studies can inform training and development practitioners on how to achieve the transfer of training more effectively.

Experiments with mice at the University of California at San Diego showed that there are circuits in the brain for goal- and habit-directed activity that compete for control when making decisions. There are chemicals that can interrupt purposeful activity and cause you to revert to habit. That’s why it is so difficult to break bad habits and install new ones. And it explains why it can be so difficult to change behavior on the job…to apply a new skill (good habit) when it is easier for the old skill (bad habit) to rule.

To be efficient on the job, we need a balance of goal-directed and habitual actions. Routine actions help us manage simple tasks quickly and without the need for much thought. Habits are helpful when you address tasks like sifting through emails or organizing the day’s agenda. But when habits interfere with applying new skills, they can harm the effectiveness of the training that was designed to improve performance.

Let’s say you as a customer service rep have been trained to question your customers more thoroughly in order to design better solutions to their problems. Before the training you, as a habit, tried to get off the phone as quickly as possible. Now you must slow down, really listen and be creative in answering the customer’s need. What is the best way to change the habit and transfer the new training to the workplace?

Experts say you need to change the context of the old habit or go about your job in a different behavioral pattern. Maybe you change your workstation configuration or shift the microphone to the other side of your face. Perhaps you start off with a brand new greeting or time yourself to engage 10 seconds longer with each phone conversation. The key is to break the old way and give the new way a chance to embed itself in what should become your new “normal” behavior.

Transfer of Training - Knowing What CAN be Changed Matters

a knight chess piece is reflected on the wall as a charging stallion

As experts in the field of talent management and the transfer of training, we know that the adage that you can’t teach an “old dog” new tricks is only partially true.

You may not be able to transform a farm horse into an Arabian race track winner, but the farm horse can learn to do its job better. The same with people…you can utilize highly customized training to leverage an employee’s natural abilities, but you will not be able to fundamentally change their innate personalities and their basic predispositions.

All of this has a major impact on what we can expect with the results of transfer of training and change initiatives and their true impact in the work environment. As learning leaders, we cannot try to do too much. If you truly want to maximize your learning investments and measurably improve employee engagement, you need to know (and apply to your expected goals) what people can actually change.

When you take into account that an adult’s ability to learn and apply new skills may be still high, you cannot expect to transform their natural talents and working style. So that’s what you need to work with when it comes to the transfer of training. Assess your workforce. Be clear on individual employees’ strengths and abilities. Figure out what you need in the future to succeed and then see how your current workforce can support that future. In other words, you need to be very strategic about leveraging the strengths of your current staff…and then fill in the blanks.

You need to adjust your assumptions as you plan your talent management and learning strategies as informed by the overall organizational strategy. Employees are not all the same, they don’t develop the same, and they won’t handle the transfer of training on the job the same. Allow for those differences and use them to your advantage.

It’s all about not forcing a square peg into a round hole. It can’t be done and it’s a painful process in the meantime. When you can focus on an individual’s innate strengths and use them to build your workforce in the right direction, you will see not only higher performance but also greater levels of employee engagement and performance.

How to Keep Employees from Fighting Training

a cartoon figure is fighting with a shark

The transfer of training to the job is predicated by having motivated and engaged participants.

At some clients, training has about as much allure as fighting with a shark. Leaders scoff because they don’t see real value and employees resent having to take time away from their high-pressure and under-staffed jobs with no clear payoff. This, then, becomes our challenge as a business consulting and training company: prove the value of training done right and ensure the measurable transfer of desired new skills and behaviors to the job.

In a corporate setting the view of executives is generally that training is without value unless it actually changes the behaviors that will have a meaningful and positive business impact. And we agree.  The challenge is three-fold:

  • Show leaders that training done right has business value
  • Convince participants that relevant training can help them succeed at their jobs
  • Design training that engages learners and is transferred back to the workplace

Training has gotten a bad rap. Employees are under enormous pressure to do more with less and faster. A recent research report from Deloitte stated that today’s learners have only 1% of their time open for professional development.  That being the case, no wonder workers complain that they don’t have “time for training.”

We need to persuade them of the value of training…the “what’s in it for them.” Then, when we get them in the classroom, we have to make the training relevant and impactful. It has to connect directly back to what they need to do to succeed now and in the future. The skills they learn need to be immediately applicable and useful in making them and their teams more successful.

To ensure the transfer of training, be sure you:

  • Know your audience
    The better you know your audience, the better you can address their concerns and help them to succeed. Do some pre-interviews so you know what your learners care most about learning. What is holding them back from doing their job more effectively? How is their success measured?  What is most important to them, their boss and their team?

  • Change it up
    Use a variety of delivery methods to keep learners engaged. And be sure to incorporate as many experiential exercises as possible. The best way to learn is to learn by doing, reflecting and trying again with timely feedback and supportive coaching.

  • Reinforce the learning
    Keep the learners focused on practicing their new skills. Include job aids, check in on a regular basis and provide ongoing performance coaching and feedback. This is the best way to ensure the transfer of training back to the workplace. 

Remember, without the effective transfer of skills to the job, the training will have little effect.

When You Really Want the Transfer of Training to Occur

a giant hand points to the word Connect

When you really want people to learn, the secret is simple: engage their emotions. Connect to a person’s emotion through knowing what turns them on and they will have a far deeper and more meaningful learning experience.

Dr. Mary Helen Immordino-Yang, a neuro-scientist, claims in a recent New York Times article that “it is literally neurobiologically impossible to think deeply about things that you don’t care about.” 

The opposite then would be true as well…that “deep understanding depends on making emotional connections between concepts.” Her view has been proven not only anecdotally but also by using a functional M.R.I. scanner that shows heightened brain function when a learner is emotionally engaged. “When students are emotionally engaged,” she said, “we see activations all around the cortex, in regions involved in cognition, memory and meaning-making, and even all the way down into the brain stem.”

It makes sense. Think back to your school days. How much fun (yes, fun) it was to learn from a lively, enthusiastic teacher or coach in a subject or sport you loved! And then think about how much more you remember of that experience. For me, much of chemistry has long been forgotten but reading and writing have been passions that have continued into my adult life.

For those of us in the workplace who focus on ensuring that there is transfer of training from a training workshop to the job, this research has important implications. It shows that if we can connect what we are trying to teach (knowledge, skills and behavior) to something that has relevance to an employee’s real world situation, deep learning can occur. That is what we must be able to demonstrate…true, personal value for each individual employee in a way that aligns with the needs of the business. 

Once you have clearly identified the critical few behaviors you want to change and the desired performance improvement related to those behaviors, you need to clearly articulate how learning those behaviors will improve life on the job at the individual, team and company levels. Employees need to be convinced that there will be real and meaningful personal and professional benefits to the new behaviors.

For significant learning to take place, employees need to enthusiastically agree that it makes sense for them to make the effort to learn and change behavior. Once the learning is understood to be personally relevant, you can look toward real change…mastery and learning that lasts.

Transfer of Training - Learning as a Means and an End

a cartoon of a watering can pouring water on a plant in a man's brain

Learning should be both…a means and an end.

That was pretty clear when you were in school.  You learned in order to progress through the different classes until you reached your desired graduation level.

Once you were on your own and in a working environment, however, the purpose of learning shifted a bit. You could pursue learning for your own pleasure as well as for advancement. If you intend your learning to help you advance in your career, you need to be sure that what you learn is relevant to your job and that you can actually have the transfer of training occur to the job.

Here are three transfer of training factors that will make your learning steady and worthwhile:

  1. Set specific, concrete goals.Just sitting down with the latest Harvard Business Review may keep you up on current business news and practices, but it may not target the area you need most. Let’s say you are looking to increase your financial savvy. You will need to take advantage of the resources available to you (articles, books, online research and classes) and make a list of what constitutes financial literacy. Set simple goals like learning what the term “bottom line” really means or the difference between fixed and variable costs. Then learn how to read and interpret a company’s financial statement. Ramp up your learning bit by bit and track your progress as you pass through each step.
  2. Schedule time.If you truly intend to improve, you can’t let this be a one-month effort. You need to set aside time on a regular basis (once a week before leaving for work or reading while on the exercise bike at the gym every Wednesday and Friday). You no longer have a teacher standing over you or grades as a consequence; it is your own disciplined plan that will keep you on target.
  3. Make it a habit and integrate your learning into your job.
    Bring your newfound learning to the workplace so your efforts to improve your financial acumen will be noticed and valued. Plan, when you’re ready, to meet with your manager to talk about how you can continue to grow your knowledge in this field and how it can support your career development.

How to Implement Your Own Transfer-of-Training Plan

A woman stands in front of a blackboard on which is printed Training and Development

Sure, learning can be accomplished in a classroom and then applied on the job. But how about not confining your idea of learning to a classroom setting but thinking in terms of learning on-the-job in the workplace?

You can take charge of your own learning and development right where you work and during your regular work day. It just requires being proactive with a clear goal, careful planning and some self-discipline. Then the transfer of training has already been accomplished…you learn as you work right on the job.

Here’s how to implement your own transfer-of-training learning and development plan on the job:

1. Think about how you want to grow this year. Select a targeted area of development that corresponds to competencies and attributes that have been identified as critical for current and future success in your job and the job one level above yours. What skill or attribute, if you were really proficient at it, would significantly enhance your value on the team and to the organization as a whole? Would you like to take on more of a leadership responsibility for instance? Then perhaps you need to enhance your strategic thinking skills.

2. Learn more about the skill you plan to develop. Use books on the subject, relevant articles, colleagues who are admired for their strategic approach to problems, and the internet. As an example of the richness of resources, simply plugging in “strategic thinking” brought up over 8 million results. Here is a free link to how we think about strategic clarity.

3. Break the skill down into its components and then break down the components into specific goals for learning. Let’s say that you have decided that lateral thinking from both the right and left sides of the brain is essential to strategic thinking. Perhaps you know that you are really good at logical, analytical thinking but need more practice on the creative side. Set as an on-the-job goal the creation of a mind map rather than a simple list of to-do’s as you brainstorm what is needed for your next project. Stretch yourself to think in terms of pictures rather than numbers. Try to express your ideas through stories rather than charts. You get the idea. The key is having a goal and a specific plan to get from where you are to where you want to be.

4. Track your progress. Be disciplined about keeping records of each goal and checking them off as you accomplish them. Just as you would receive progress reports in a classroom, you should be able to see how you are moving forward toward completion. You can even enlist the help of a colleague to give you feedback as you practice your skills. This way you won’t be operating in a vacuum. You will have a chance to test your skills where it matters on the job and get input on how you are doing from those who can attest to your improvement.

Take control of your own learning and career development. Good luck!

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5 Tips on How to Ensure the Transfer of Training

lines are drawn from one brain to another of 4 graphic images of people

The transfer of training…if only it were as simple as the graphic above implies! Here you have four workers all in one place who are willing both to give and to receive learning from one another. And that’s only the beginning of the process. You have to wonder if they will retain the new knowledge and skills and if they will be able to apply what they have learned on the job in a way that aligns with their unique corporate culture and moves the business strategy forward.

As learning leaders have learned, it is not a “slam-dunk.” Learners have to be convinced that the training will make a positive difference for them personally and professionally. There has to be commitment and support from senior managers for the training…its implementation and its application. And finally, the training needs to become habitual and systemic if it is to have a positive impact on the business…and that’s the only reason training should be delivered in the first place.

Here are 5 tips that can help ensure that the learning has been effective and will be adopted in the workplace:

1. Understand the priorities of day-to-day business.
Recognize that, unless managers support the learning and its relevance to the business, there will be little incentive for them or their followers to take much time away from their daily workload. The key is to focus on what matters most to them, their bosses and the business while providing flexible development options that make sense.  For example, a recent high-growth client unsuccessfully rolled out new manager training in the midst of an important software release.  Sure, new managers needed to raise their proficiency in a number of areas to improve employee engagement and reduce attrition, but a far more pressing need was to deliver what had been promised to the street and their customer base.

2. Make continuous learning a high priority. 
Corporate leaders need to model the importance of always striving to do better. Successful companies know that nothing stays the same. To stay competitive, organizations and their people need to adapt to change quickly and effectively. Companies that value stretching to learn more and do better will be the winners in the long-term.  When is the last time you or your leadership team have pushed to learn more?

3. Appreciate different learning styles.
Individuals learn differently. That’s not news. But with so many generations now in the workplace, there should be some accommodations made in the way learning is designed and delivered. Whereas older workers are used to classroom-style learning, millennials prefer to rely on technology to support their acquisition of new knowledge and skills.  Focus on what works best for your target audience and learning objectives.

4. Empower employees to own their own development.
Today’s workers want to have some control over their careers. Coach employees to plot a career development path that makes sense for them and work toward providing opportunities to walk along that path.  Highly engaged workers almost always feel that their jobs provide them with a chance to learn and grow.

5. Teach managers how to coach and why it matters.
Managers are the ones with the most to gain when their teams perform at their peak. And once training has been completed, it is targeted and consistent performance coaching that will reinforce the new behaviors and make the difference between simple awareness and actual application on-the-job.

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4 Reasons Behavior Does NOT Change for the Long-Term

A bird says, "Ready to try out your new training?" to a cartoon bear in the air flapping its paws as it tries to fly

As much as we may resolve to adopt new habits, we often fail. According to numbers from the Statistic Brain Research Institute, unless you have a plan to succeed, only 8% of us are actually successful in  implementing our New Year’s resolutions. The other 92% may be sincere on January 1st but lack the discipline, lose the motivation, get discouraged, and fail well before year’s end.

It is one thing not to work out as often at the gym as you had hoped, but it is another when you are in charge of changing behavior and performance on the job. To experts involved in new skill adoption and performance improvement in the workplace the consequences of failure can be dire.

Can psychologists help with advice on the successful transfer of training? Here are four reasons behavior does not change for the long-term:

1. Being unrealistic.
Carefully think through your goal and make sure that, with discipline, it is achievable. Too many of our resolutions cannot be realistically achieved. The result? Year after year, we fail and, before long, we enter the false hope cycle. You set an impossible goal; you make some progress but fall far short; yet again, you are unsuccessful. Sure, at first it feels good to have that goal in mind. You feel positive and empowered. But the letdown at failure leaves you lower than before and ever more discouraged…until you make the same resolution the following year.

2. Thinking that change is sudden.
Successful change is often incremental.  Break your goal down into achievable parts. Let’s say that you have a goal of increasing revenue by 12% at year-end. You know that by training your sales force in more consultative selling techniques, this goal is attainable. Start by looking at 1% increases every month. The smaller, manageable milestones keep you on track and encourage forward progress. Actual behavior change takes patience. It takes repetitive practice, learning, adjustment and discipline to turn a new skill into a new and successful habit.

3. Underestimating obstacles and not tracking progress.
Change rarely comes without barriers.  Make sure your organizational culture strongly exposes and supports the newly desired skills and behaviors. For example, if your goal is to encourage more team collaboration, make sure that performance metrics do not over-measure or over-reward individual success.  Sometimes something as simple as setting up the office space so team members have more opportunities to meet with one another easily can improve collaboration.   And then, make sure you keep track of and share progress toward your goals. Expose when the new behaviors are (and are not) applied and the associated positive and negative results. Share these with the team so they, too, recognize the consequences of success and failure.

4. Losing faith.
With any substantial change, there will be slip-ups. Don’t lose heart. Keep focused on the goal and adjust as you learn to get where you need to go. You may have missed a step forward in the short-term, but it is the long-term that really matters when trying to transfer skills and behaviors from the classroom to the job.

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3 Proven Ways to Improve the Transfer of Training Today

One cartoon figure's brain is dripping into another's to show knowledge transfer

If only the transfer of learning to on-the-job application were as easy as pouring facts from the brain of an instructor into the brain of a student. It is, however, a far more complex process to change behavior and performance. And even when the training participant has learned the skills in a workshop environment, there is no guarantee those new skills will actually be proficiently transferred to their working world.

If your goal is the effective transfer of training from the workshop to the job, you need to coax your learners and their managers far beyond simple insight and awareness of new behaviors.

Here are three ways to improve your transfer of training success:

1. Establish strong learner readiness
Until your learners are persuaded that the effort needed to acquire and apply new behaviors is truly in their (and their boss’) best interests, there is little hope that they will care enough to make the changes required to improve performance. You need to provide clear and compelling reasons for the training participants and their bosses to be motivated to learn, change and perform. What’s in it for them? And are they capable of learning and supporting the new skills? It is a question of relevance, motivation and ability. Be sure you have established all three before you invest the effort, time and money required for training to change behavior and on-the-job performance.

2. Establish a supportive process and accountability
You need a system in place to measure the transfer of training. No training or development should take place without alignment with an important business imperative. If the learning will have a true impact on business results, it should be reinforced and measured. Participants and their bosses should be held accountable; not only for attending the training but for proving that they have transferred the training to the workplace. Give them opportunities to practice the skills, the support of well-trained coaches to encourage and tweak the skills, and measures of actual performance.

3. Establish alignment
To be worthwhile, training should be highly relevant to the learners, their bosses and the business. In other words, the new behaviors need to be fully aligned with important organizational goals. This is how you can garner the necessary support of senior leadership and the resources necessary for success. The training should be integral to enhancing productivity and, therefore, the organization’s performance.

Once these three pillars of successful transfer of training are in place, the effectiveness of your learning initiative is said to be increased by as much as 180%. Don’t fall short. Lay the groundwork properly by establishing learner readiness, appropriate goals and metrics, and the full support of executives.

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The Transfer of Training to Action Is What Counts Most

The silhouette of a young person with colorful objects being funneled into their brain

If only learning were a simple matter of filling the brain with information. What really counts is not the amount of knowledge or skill one accumulates but how often and how proficiently one uses it.

In the workplace, we look for the transfer of training to the job to create different performance outcomes. And, in particular, we look for something called “learning agility” which is the ability to absorb new information and skills and then extrapolate them to navigate effectively in unfamiliar situations.

We find that learning agile workers are able to:

  1. Perform. They find patterns in complicated situations and can calmly and confidently maneuver through to thoughtful and effective action.
  2. Innovate. They are constantly challenging themselves to find new solutions and better ways of doing things.
  3. Take Smart Risks. They welcome a challenge even when there is no guarantee of success.
  4. Fail with Grace. They take responsibility for any failures and use them as learning opportunities. They reflect on how they could have acted differently.

Wouldn’t you want a “learning agile” person on your team?

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4 Ways to Learn New Skills More Efficiently

A battered and bruised man is flapping his arms as he tries to fly but doesn't yet know how to land

Uh-oh.  Clearly this teacher and novice flier and had no real plan for success. Landing smoothly and safely should have been a high priority goal of this new skill of flying.

Thanks to experts in the transfer of training to the workplace, there is helpful advice on how to learn new skills fast and set yourself up to succeed with no crash landings. Follow this step-by-step plan:

  1. Clearly define your goal. Let’s say you’d like to learn to play the piano because you have always wanted to make your own music and entertain friends. Your goal should be specific and time-bound. How about committing to mastering 3 songs in 3 months…just in time to invite friends for the holidays.  As one mountain climber friend jokes, “my goal is to summit Everest and make it back down alive, not just to reach the top.”
  2. Identify individual components of the skill. For piano, it might be learning to read music, relating sheet music to the actual piano keys, strengthening your fingers, playing with 2 hands, and so on.  For climbing Everest it may be components of rock climbing, abseiling, scrambling, glacier travel, camp craft, altitude adjustment, first aid and physical fitness.
  3. Anticipate pitfalls. Think about why you might lose motivation so you’re prepared for any challenges ahead. Possible solutions? Hire a teacher (or Sherpa) who can inspire you when you falter or go to a piano concert to reinforce your goal.
  4. Choose the most critical components and work on one at a time. For piano, play with the right hand first to hear the melody. Once you get that down, you can add the left hand with simple chords. For Everest, many climbers start by gaining a certain fitness level and then progress to basic rock climbing, more advanced rock climbing, ice climbing, altitude climbing and solo climbing.

4 Things to Know About Erasing Bad Habits and Transferring Good Ones

A pencil eraser is trying to eliminate the words "Bad Habits" so the Transfer of Training can be effective in installing good habits
The making and breaking of habits have been studied backwards, forwards and sideways. Behavioral expert Gretchen Rubin in her book Better Than Before: Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Lives adds a somewhat new perspective. She claims that:

  •  There is no definitive time during which new habits become solidified. Some are almost instantaneous; others can take far longer than the 66 days period that was generally accepted. So when you are looking for the transfer of training from the classroom to the job, you need to be patient and diligent in seeing that the behavior is encouraged, coached and rewarded until it is embedded…no matter how long it takes.  You also need to treat the transfer of training differently dependent upon the skill and situation.
  • There is no specific list of habits that spell success. While some authors would have you believe differently, the better you know yourself and the habits that work for you, the better able you are to channel the habits that lead you to success. If it was as easy as just following “best practices,” we would all be superstars.
  • Breaks are OK. Sometimes when we are working too hard to correct a fault, we need a distraction. Take a break, refresh yourself and then return to the task with renewed energy.  Everyone has a different pace.  Identify and respect what works for each person as long as they are making improvements.
  • Slip-ups are to be expected and can be overcome. If you backslide on a commitment, try to figure out the triggers that led you astray, make a plan for recovery and get back on track.  Plan for this to happen and be ready to address it when it occurs.
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New Skills Need to Go from the Classroom to the Workplace

Let’s assume you have done an effective job of defining which skills are needed on the job to succeed, you have identified the critical few skill gaps for each team member, and you have a targeted program in place to teach those skills to your target audience. So far, so good.

But all this effort will be for naught unless you also have a solid plan for ensuring the transfer of training from the classroom to the workplace. You need to care about adoption.

Make sure that:
  •  the employees, their bosses and the leadership team fully understand the benefit of the skills for them both personally and professionally…how the new skills will improve their performance on the job and contribute to the overall goals of the business.  
  •  there are people and processes in place to support adoption. You need coaches, rewards, consequences and supporting systems, practices, tools and structures that align with what you are trying to accomplish.
  • you and other managers are fully prepared to lead by example with the behaviors you seek in your employees.
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Three Simple Ways to Keep Your Brain from Shrinking

There is a recent branch of science that studies how to keep our brains active and healthy for as long as possible. With the average death rate rising along with the incidence of dementia, we are all fearful of our bodies outliving our brain function.

For those of us in the corporate learning and development world, we, too, want to keep brains healthy and active in order to maximize the transfer of training from the workshop to the workplace.

Here are three simple ways we have found to keep “smart”…

1.     Use it.  Keep your brain well-toned by using it. Don’t fall into rigid patterns of behavior. If you do the same things the same way day after day, you will be using the same neural pathways inadvertently causing others to fall into disuse. Challenge yourself by trying new routines…shifting the order of things and approaching projects differently.

2.     Practice.  Use your memory every day. Recall past lessons, tips and job aids.  Reflect upon things that worked and things that did not work. 

3.     Challenge Yourself.  Try exercises that test your expertise such as crossword puzzles or memory games. The more you engage your brain “muscle,” the stronger it will remain.

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Motivation Alone Will Not Drive You to Your Goal

Motivation alone is not enough. It may be the initial spur to action (like the possibility of money in the picture above) but you are bound to falter toward your goal unless you have the necessary accompaniment…commitment. 

Motivation does not keep you going through thick and thin. To reach a long-term goal you need the kind of commitment that sustains you as you confirm, again and again, why the goal matters to you. You need to value the reward of attainment, be able to overcome the difficulties that emerge, be willing to contribute all the resources necessary, and not be distracted by other options. These factors define your level of commitment.

There is a lesson here for those of us in learning and development who care about the transfer of training to the job. For your learners to succeed, they need some motivation (the possibility of promotion or salary increase, perhaps). But they need more. Make sure that they 

  1. Understand and appreciate the rewards that will be theirs once the learning goal is achieved
  2. Sign up willingly knowing that behavior change can be challenging
  3. Are willing to spend the time and energy required
  4. Have the focus to avoid being sidetracked by other possibilities  

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Use the Power of Reflection to Enhance Learning by Almost 20%

Use the Power of Reflection to Enhance Learning by Almost 20%

Did you know that, simply by reflecting on what you have learned, you can enhance learning by 18% according to four researchers (Di Stefano of HEC Paris, Gino and Pisano of Harvard Business School and Bradley Staats of the University of North Carolina)?

They propose that effective learning is a dual process…doing (or experiencing) as well as reflecting (intentionally thinking about and analyzing the lessons taught by experience). Their results have important implications for the transfer of training on the job.

As you design a learning program that includes practice and application, you should also include time to synthesize, abstract and articulate what has just been learned by the experience. Action learning can be far more effective and lasting if you simply build in exercises that give learners the time and opportunity to reflect upon what they have learned and thus integrate that learning into their ongoing behavior.

Though it would be nice to do it at leisure in a pool as above, reflection can be easily accomplished in the classroom as long as it is part of the program design.

Chris Argyris of MIT called this process double loop learning. We describe the process in four steps:

  • Decide what you are going to do
  • Do it
  • Reflect upon what worked and what did not work
  • Connect your insights and lessons to your next decision to make it better
If you want to transfer skills from the classroom to the job, make sure that your participants go through all four steps during the learning process and back at their job with the support of an experienced mentor or coach.

Skills + Application + Impact = Transfer of Training

Skills + Application + Impact = Transfer of Training

There are many different reasons and ways to learn. Some improve long-term performance and others do not.

For example, you can just stuff your brain with stuff as many do in order to pass a test. While there are valid reasons for this, this kind of learning is typically short-lived.

When changing behavior, what really counts is the kind of learning that is relevant to your current and future job, that lasts over time and that can be consistently applied because it is integrated into the way people and the company think and operate.

That means learning leaders need to design relevant and applicable experiences and knowledge transfer principles that stick. We call this the effective transfer of training, and it has three main components:

  1. Targeted skills, knowledge and behaviors that matter most for your unique business strategy and performance culture.

  2. Consistent application of those key skills on the job.

  3. Making an impact on individual, team and company performance.
In our experience, learning by doing what matters most combined with consistent feedback, coaching and accountability provide the greatest chances for success. Employees who are trained in their own work environment using the targeted tools and behaviors that apply directly to their job and role they have been assigned that work well in their unique environment make the most progress.
  • Learning by doing what matters most: By focusing only on the most important challenges they face, employees are given the chance to practice and use specific job aids until the new skills become the norm. What are the top 10 challenges or scenarios that matter most for your target audience to improve?

  • Consistent feedback: With a skilled coach, learners are given immediate and relevant feedback…kudos for work done correctly, guidance for attacking the next level and encouragement for when improvement is needed. Are you prepared to provide consistent performance coaching?

  • Accountability: The addition of rewards for application and improved performance results and negative consequences for unchanged behavior creates meaning and accountability. How are you putting meaningful “teeth” into your initiative?
The advantage for employees is that they learn faster, improve faster, and are better integrated into the new work flow of the company. The advantage for the company is improved performance and business results. How are you building in the transfer of training into your learning solutions?

Transfer New Skills One Step at a Time

Transfer New Skills One Step at a Time

Learning new skills takes patience and perseverance...especially if you are working on a skill you thought you had mastered previously but have now been asked to approach it in a new way.

Have you ever tried to transition from skiing to snowboarding? You may have been a master at negotiating moguls on skis but you now must learn how to get downhill on a board. The technique is entirely different. And it is extraordinarily frustrating to feel like a “beginner” on the slopes again.

This is the kind of frustration that employees face when asked to try a new skill on the job. They practiced the skill in the workshop but now must apply what they learned. The transfer of training involves slips, frustration and a slowdown of productivity.

When there is real commitment to change, the key to success is to understand that you are likely to get worse before you get better. Accept this and keep at it…one step at a time.

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How to Unlock the Door to Successful Habit Change

We have all set goals for ourselves that should have been reachable. But somehow the old habits got in our way.

Whether you were planning a new workout regime, establishing a healthier diet, or practicing a new skill on the job, you failed. Perhaps you should take a tip from experts on the transfer of training. They say it is not the goal that defeats you as much as the tactics you choose to get there.

For example, for your new workout regime, you might be better off exercising after work than before if you are not a morning person. For your diet, why not allow yourself one chocolate a day rather than cut out sweets completely. For the new skill you are determined to apply at work, try doing one step at a time with help from a mentor rather than expecting perfection on your first attempt.

In other words, you will be far more successful ultimately if you think through and brainstorm different ways to reach your goal. Which behavioral key will sidestep failure and unlock that door to successful habit change?

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Reaching the Executive Level Is Not a Free Pass – 3 Tips to Keep Learning

Congratulations…you’ve made it to the C-Suite! But don’t think for a minute that you now have a free pass to sit back and take it easy.

You have new and weighty responsibilities and it is even more incumbent upon you to keep learning. You need to continue to learn new skills, not only to set the example for others, but to keep abreast of changes in the marketplace.

There are basically three ways to develop your leadership skills…on your own, with the help of a mentor and through training.

    1. Spend Time Reflecting. Spend 10 minutes every day assessing your performance that day and reflecting upon how you could have done better. Put your lessons into action right away.
    2. Get Honest and Frequent Feedback. Choose someone you admire to give you coaching in your new leadership role. If you can’t find a willing and available coach, seek feedback from all those you interact with. Encourage honest assessments and accept them with gratitude.
    3. Grow and Build Key Skills. Take advantage of any executive training that is offered. Then be sure you find a way to accomplish the transfer of training to your unique strategy, culture and job.

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How Not to Waste Your Money on Training

As a manager, you see a problem and want to fix it. Let’s say your team is not functioning well as a group. Why not put them through a day of training? A quick refresher on how to work better together ought to do it, right?


Quick fix training is never the solution. In fact, training without follow-through is a waste of money. We have measured over 800 training projects. Only 1-in-5 people change their behavior from stand-alone training events.

The key to successful training programs is to ensure the transfer of training to the job. What supports the transfer of training?

  1. Relevance.
    Make sure that the training you have chosen will address the root cause of the problem, that it is aligned with a real business issue, and that the skills learned can be put to use right away. It must be highly relevant to the participants, their bosses and leadership compared to other priorities.
  1. Follow-through.
    Set up a system of accountability and performance coaching so learners are supported as they apply their new skills…and keep it up so the new behaviors become ingrained. This is the only way to turn learning into performance.
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4 Big Misunderstandings About How to Change Behavior

Don’t fall into the 4 traps that capture many who misunderstand what it takes to really change behavior.

Especially if you are in charge of boosting performance among your employees and seeing that there is transfer of training on the job, you need to beware of the following misconceptions.

  1. Misperception #1 - Habits only change with time.
    Sometimes they can change overnight. Something happens to us and we shift our habits instantly. It’s the phenomenon of the Lightning Bolt. Unfortunately, we cannot control when this happens. We can only react to it and try to reinforce the improved behavior.
  1. Misperception #2 - Repetition is necessary to change a habit or behavior.
    It has to do with reaching the finish line. Sometimes that is enough to reinforce the new habit of regular exercise and training. Sometimes we revert to our other less-healthy habits of couch-potato-ism.
  1. Misperception #3 - Consequences matter.
    Even dire consequences do not always change behavior. Just think of the as many as 50% of patients who don’t follow doctor’s orders even when faced with a serious illness.
  1. Misperception #4 - Quitting cold turkey works better than moderating change.
    It all depends. Some people change their behavior more effectively in small steps; others need to do it in one fell swoop.
The bottom line
The same strategies do not work for everyone. When you want to see a change of behavior on the job, find the approach the works best for the situation, the individuals and your corporate culture. Learn more at:

Are You a Prisoner of Your Own Experiences?

If employees have been successful following a certain track and using certain skills, they are apt to find it very difficult to change. Why should they change? It has worked before, and they have done well. They are prisoners of their own experiences.

It is just this attitude that makes the actual transfer of training to the workplace so very challenging.

  • Relevance. First, as a leader of needed changes in behavior, you have to convince the learners of the importance of learning new ways of doing things.

  • Adoption. And then you have to have the patience to let them practice the skills on-the-job and be allowed to fail now and then.

  • Impact. Finally you have to measure the frequency, proficiency and impact of the new behaviors through ongoing coaching and an aligned performance management and reward system.
To help workers break free from their old ways, the transfer of training requires a whole support system of managers who believe in and model the changed behaviors, of a skilled coaching staff, of flexibility as changes are practiced, and of a reward plan that promotes application and adoption of the new skills.

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How to Get the Most Value from Your Training

No need, we hope, to convince you of the value of targeted, relevant training.

But, once the training is over, are you sure that you are getting real payback from your investment? Employees may well have proven that they have learned the new skills in the workshop. But can you ensure the skills will be adopted on the job? Or that they will improve performance?

A study conducted by Training Industry, Inc. found that almost two-thirds of those surveyed felt that knowledge transfer in their organization was ineffective. And the apparent reason? The lack of a formal process for transferring that knowledge. Further study indicated that there is a single best practice strategy that outperforms all the rest for the effective transfer of training—coaching.

Set up a network of coaches to work one-on-one with newly trained workers. Their coaching should encourage practice of the new skills and guide the employee toward application of the skills regularly on the job. This is a great way to get the most value from your training.

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A Little Pain Can Help You Grow – 3 Steps to Make it Worth Your While

Learning can sometimes be a bit painful. Often you have to stretch yourself beyond your comfort zone to improve. Areas in which you feel somewhat out of control and challenged are the areas in which you have an opportunity to expand your horizons and experience something entirely new and exciting.

It is the same when you are trying out a new behavior at work. You have learned some new skills but they are not easy to apply. In fact, it takes longer to do it the new way…at least at first.

Rarely are the advantages of the new way of doing things obvious at first. This is what the “learning curve” is all about. It will be easier if you:

1.     Are clear about the benefits of applying the new behavior
2.     Set up a realistic plan to take one small step at a time
3.     Get immediate and consistent feedback from a trusted source on your progress

5 Expert Tips on Habit Change that Apply to Transfer of Training

Much has been written about how to change habits…from how to quit smoking to how to maintain a healthy regime. Much of the advice has application to the effective transfer of training to the job.

Here are five tips that work both for the individual at home and for the employee in the workplace.

1.     Start small. Don’t expect major behavior changes right away. Take into account that change is difficult to begin and to maintain. Small steps toward the goal work better. It is more effective to establish a new “normal” bit by bit.

Do your instructional design, training measurement and performance review processes accentuate and reward small steps?

2.     Anticipate obstacles. Every attempt to change behavior will encounter challenges. On the job, it is often time pressure and conflicting priorities that push employees back into the “old” way of doing things.

Do you help your target audience (and their bosses) plan for how to overcome the most common difficulties unique to your company before they occur?

3.     Enlist support. Find a coworker or a mentor that will encourage and support you when the going gets tough.

Does your organizational culture encourage coaching, mentoring and feedback?

4.     Set up the environment to succeed. Create reminders, eliminate distractions and establish accountability.

Have you created the necessary job aids and support systems to make the desired changes easier?

Just do it. Do not overthink the process. Commit, begin and don’t look back.

Are the new behaviors relevant enough for people to want to change their ways?