Every employer wants its training to stick. After all, what’s the use of training if employees aren’t able to apply the skills that they’ve learned on the job? However, training transfer isn’t a given. So, what are the most common barriers to training transfer, and how can they be avoided?
When trainees don’t use what they’ve learned in training, the reason is often a lack of reinforcement back on the job, says Michael Nolan, president of Friesen, Kaye, and Associates. Savvy trainers set the stage for that reinforcement long before they enter the classroom.
Meeting with participants and their bosses in advance can significantly increase the likelihood of training transfer, Nolan says. In a collaborative discussion, you can agree on mutual expectations and objectives for the training session.
Depending on the type of training, Nolan recommends that this collaborative discussion take place 4 weeks before the program begins, allowing ample time for participants to complete any prework. In any case, don’t wait until the day before training to have the discussion.
Ideally, you should meet individually and as a group with trainees and their bosses both before and after the training, Nolan says. Following up after training will help you determine whether:
- The training met everyone’s expectations;
- The work environment (including the participants’ peers and bosses) is supportive of the learned concept; and
- Participants know how to implement what they learned back on the job.
Simply asking trainees how they liked the program is not enough, but that’s often where reinforcement after training stops, according to Nolan. He offers five additional tips to increase the likelihood of successful training transfer:
- Develop a solid understanding of the participants’ jobs, and make the content relevant and practical.
- Link the training to your organization’s goals and objectives so that participants and their bosses understand the importance and the relevance of the information.
- Minimize interference from the job during training so that participants can give their full attention to the training topic.
- Provide opportunities for practice and feedback so that participants leave the training session with the necessary knowledge and skills.
- Allow for “reflection and application” during training, giving participants a chance to think about how to use that knowledge and those skills back on the job.