Training is a key element of any successful organisation, but how do you ensure that the training you provide to your employees is effective? The answer, among others, lies in understanding Personal Transfer Capacity. It is one of the 12 levers of Transfer Effectiveness, a model developed by Dr. Ina Weinbauer-Heidel, Founder and CEO of The Institute of Transfer Effectiveness.  Dr. Ina has researched and studied in great depth ‘what makes learning stick’. In her book WHAT MAKES TRAINING REALLY WORK – 12 LEVERS OF TRANSFER EFFECTIVENESS, she talks in further detail about how to manage transfer.

Personal Transfer Capacity (PTC) is one of the crucial factors in ensuring that training is effective and leads to improved job performance. PTC is the extent to which trainees have the capacity – in terms of time and workload – to successfully apply newly learned skills. It is all about the question “How can we as L&D professionals ensure that trainees have enough time and capacity to apply what they have learned to their daily work?”

Let’s take the examples she shares in the book of two individuals who took the same training on Prezi software 4 months ago.

Keyla had a classic capacity problem. Another pressing project caused her to postpone the transfer project and, if that happens repeatedly, she’ll soon set it aside completely. Transfer success has no chance. Alexa, on the other hand, has managed to implement her transfer project in her everyday working life. She was able to find and apply the necessary personal transfer capacity.

So how do we all become more like Alexa? Let’s first explore the common reasons transfer fails.


In the modern age, time is the bottleneck resource that everyone has in equal measure – 24 hours a day. With the demand for faster and more efficient work, the need for acquiring new skills in less time has become increasingly urgent for both companies and trainees.

Despite the use of new technologies and efficient work practices, our to-do lists seem to always overflow with tasks, leaving us with a constant shortage of time. This is often a result of poor planning, as studies have shown that people tend to overestimate their capacity for tasks and plan too optimistically, known as the “Planning Fallacy.”

To overcome this phenomenon, it is important to set realistic timelines based on previous experiences, anticipate worst-case scenarios, factor in obstacles and unexpected circumstances, and seek feedback from others. By building on previous experience, planning for barriers, and receiving feedback, plans become more realistic, helping trainees to succeed in their transfer projects.

However, the capacity problem in the context of learning and transfer runs deeper as our society lives in a world full of myths about learning. It is essential to support trainees with guided transfer planning, high motivation, and feedback to ensure successful transfer projects.


Considering the scarcity of time and the increasing demand for more skills to be acquired in less time, shorter training sessions are becoming more popular. However, it may not necessarily lead to greater competence or reduce the cumulative time spent. Professor Axel Koch introduced a metaphor to describe this idea – trainees arrive at a (short) seminar like a car at a filling station. They “refuel” their mental fuel tank and leave the station refuelled, completing their errand. However, learning takes time and energy and cannot be achieved through a quick “fill-up” like refuelling a car. Professionals need to absorb content, repeat, try out, practice, reflect, and practice again to gain new knowledge. Wishing for a quick and effortless way to learn is an illusion, and the slow and steady approach is more effective.

It is the trainings that are designed as an event rather than a process that consume real time and resources. The perception of learning as an event, a one-time occurrence that is as short as possible, is unlikely to be successful. For example, it is unrealistic to expect a half-day training to quickly modify communication habits that have been practiced for decades. Instead, a gradual and continuous learning process is more likely to yield better results.


The phrase “I don’t have the time” is often an excuse for not wanting to or being able to see how to invest effort in sustainable learning and transfer success. Sustainable and time-saving learning is not an event, but instead a process, with different steps before, during, and after the training. To create personal transfer capacities, it is necessary to manage expectations, prioritize, and plan. It is essential to choose training times and durations carefully, divide learning content into smaller portions, and use a spaced practice approach to make it easier to integrate training into daily routines. Additionally, with a suitable transfer architecture, we can ensure that transfer space is planned and made available for trainees. It is important to calculate and communicate learning times and not just “presence time”.


Choose the right time for training: Scheduling training often revolves around the trainer’s availability, with less attention given to trainees and their schedules. However, to ensure effective learning and transfer, it is important to consider the trainees’ perspective and avoid scheduling training during their busiest periods. Instead, it may be useful to schedule training during periods when trainees have specific targets or goals to achieve.

Design processes instead of events: Rather than treating learning as a one-time event, it should be viewed as a process that involves more than just the seminar or training session. HR developers and trainers should design training processes that support transfer and lead to lasting changes in behaviour. This involves identifying transfer-promoting measures and integrating them into the training process.

Spaced training – opt for several short training units: Opting for several short training units, known as spaced training, is a more effective way to acquire and utilise training content than a single large training session, known as massed training. This can be achieved by breaking up a two-day training into four or five half-day modules, each with a core theme or focus topic and a matching application task.

In spaced training, the content is reviewed immediately at the next half-day module, promoting long-term storage, and application experiences are exchanged and discussed, promoting transfer volition and self-efficacy. This transforms learning from a single event into a process, a learner journey.

Discuss understandings of, and myths related to, learning in training: The myth of learning-as-refuelling, where one can quickly acquire new knowledge and skills, is deeply ingrained in our society. As trainers, it is important to dispel this myth and emphasize the importance of the main phase of learning, which involves applying, practicing, and experimenting in the workplace. Trainees must understand that the success of training depends on their ability to transfer what they have learned to their work. This requires time, effort, and practice, and trainees must be prepared for this phase of the learning process.

It is also crucial to guide trainees away from the illusion that they have “refuelled” and can instantly apply what they have learned. Behavioural change takes time, and trainees must be given realistic expectations and a good plan for undertaking the transfer process. Trainers can use models of behavioural change, such as the Rubicon model or the stages of behavioural change from the transtheoretical model, to help trainees understand the process of change and develop a realistic plan for achieving it.

In reminder emails or follow-up sessions, trainers can reiterate the importance of the transfer process and the resources needed to support it. By dispelling myths related to learning and providing a realistic understanding of the learning process, trainers can help trainees develop the skills and knowledge they need to succeed in their work.

To enhance PTC, organisations can use various strategies, such as setting clear learning objectives, providing feedback, using active learning methods, providing opportunities for practice, encouraging self-reflection, and providing social support. By using these strategies, organisations can help employees develop the necessary skills and confidence to transfer their learning to their job.

Provide opportunities for practice in realistic projects and assignments: Practice is essential for learners to develop their skills and build their confidence in applying what they have learned to their job. Often, trainers make the mistake of setting up additional tasks and assignments, which are then seen as extra work for which participants have no time. To address personal transfer capacity, ensure that trainees work on tasks that are actually on their work agenda during prep work, training, or as part of transfer tasks. For example, in presentation training, don’t just assign any presentation, but let them work on a presentation they genuinely need to deliver in their job. This way, the training saves time instead of imposing an additional workload.

Offer time for In-Training Implementation: An important factor contributing to time constraints during training is that implementing learned content often begins only after training. By initiating implementation during training, we can make use of the “sunk cost fallacy” effect—the psychological phenomenon where people feel compelled to complete tasks they’ve already invested time and effort into.

Encourage trainees to start implementing their projects (first steps, drafts, prototypes) while in training. For example, encourage trainees to come to the training with a case or problem they want to solve with the help of the training. Have trainees work on their own cases already during training, let them write an email to colleagues scheduling a meeting for next steps, make them create a project plan, or encourage them to arrange a meeting with their supervisor when they are still in training. Initiating tasks during training increases the likelihood of continued implementation afterward.

Models, templates, and master copies as time safer: “We don’t have time to apply” often implies that tasks are too difficult or exhausting. To address this, make the process enticingly simple by offering models, templates, and master copies during training. Providing trainees with readily usable resources saves valuable time and effort during implementation. This simplification allows trainees to focus on tasks without feeling that they must invest additional time.

Time for transfer! Now it’s your turn! How do you support personal transfer capacity? How could you help trainees find time and capacity to apply what they have learned? What is the next step that you would like to implement? Tell us in the comments.

Click here to learn more about the 12 Levers of Transfer Effectiveness or to buy Dr. Ina’s book.

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