A key question facilitators need to ask themselves if they want to make sure transfer happens is, “During training are the trainees already making action plans that involve not just their goals but specific concrete activities?” Ideally, trainees will leave a training program saying, “I know what I am going to do step by step after training”.

In our last blog, 12 Levers of Transfer Effectiveness, we talked about how the Support from Supervisors Lever was one of the most effective determinants of transfer effectiveness. In Part 2 of that series, we explore another Lever that Dr. Ina Weinbauer-Heidel’s research found to be very effective, Transfer Planning.

Transfer Planning

“I need to review all the materials from training again and think about what and how I can apply these things”.

It is quite common to hear this from trainees at the end of training sessions. They are often left feeling inundated with too much material and information to review in order to apply what they have learned when they get back into the workspace.  This is because they leave the training program with a heavy backpack loaded with information. Post training and once back at work, many have a pile of work on their desks to wade through and urgent request from colleagues, leaving them little time or motivation to review the training materials. As a result, the training material goes unread and unapplied.

What is needed: It is necessary to ensure that trainees leave the training session with a transfer-friendly light-weight backpack which contains only the necessary information and a concrete, finished plan of how to apply it. If we want trainees to apply what they have learnt during their training program, we need to ensure that they make an action plan and formulate concrete intentions before they get back to their work environments and daily routines.

The question is: how can we pack the backpack in a transfer-friendly way? Research gives us a clear and convincing answer for that. Let’s take a trip to the field of sports research and to a study with people who tried to do more sports. The researchers conducting this experiment randomly assigned 248 adults to one of three groups. Every group was asked to keep track of how frequently they exercised over the next few weeks. Additionally, every group got a special intervention as well. But here are the results first:

What was different with this successful group? The first group was a control group, who before the task of working out were asked to read some unrelated matter from a novel, while the second group, the motivational group, were given an inspirational talk and the third group, the Implementation-Intention group, was given a mini plan i.e. a single simple sentence to complete. Research shows us that the simple act of writing the intention down increases the likelihood of us doing the task by 2 or 3 times.

If we want people to apply what they have learnt in training, we have to make sure they make a very specific action plan and formulate concrete intentions. Just sharing and reflecting on key learnings is not good enough. We want to make sure we get into very specific transfer planning.

So how do we as trainers or facilitators achieve this? To double or even triple transfer success, it is important to encourage trainees to prepare in detail and plan their actions while they are still in training, by:

  • Reserving 10-20% of their training time for transfer planning. Example: 2 hours of transfer planning during a 2-day training program.
  • Not allowing them to leave the room without any concrete intentions of how, where and when they will apply what they have learnt.
  • Focusing on the little things i.e., encouraging them to take taking mini or baby steps and raising their motivation to take further steps.

Transfer Tools

To help with Transfer Planning here are a couple of tools to get you started.

This first Tool – Skills In Action – Ina developed for a company that has roughly 9000 employees and while it started with just one program, we now successfully use this tool for every training.  It’s a simple tool used at the end of workshops so participants can reflect on 3 questions:

  1. What will I remember: What is particularly important and useful for me?
  2. How will I benefit: What can I realise and achieve?
  3. What will I do: How will I implement it?

For the 3rd one “how will I implement it” participants are given a little yellow post-it for them to write on, with the idea that learners could remove it once they had taken that first baby step. Interestingly this created a “culture” of employees and supervisors starting to ask each other “So what’s your yellow post it?” This tool has a Positive Impact on other transfer levers such as Support from Peers and Support from Supervisors.

Another tool is the Transfer Contract, which is a more sophisticated version of the above Skills in Action format. Here participants are asked to reflect on the real-life topics and challenges they defined at the beginning of the program and using what they’ve learned, access which tools could help them achieve positive impact on that topic.

If you like to know more about Transfer Effectiveness, the programs on offer or design a training for your organisation’s needs, get in touch with us at info@thelearninggym.co

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