For training programs to be of high business value, learners must use the knowledge and skills they’ve learned back on the job, performance must be improved, and the impact on the business must be positive. A positive impact might be an increase in the number of forms processed, or an increase in sales. Alternatively, a positive impact could be a reduction in error rates, or a reduction in time to completion.
It’s important to note, however, that the application of new knowledge and skills, or training transfer, is not guaranteed. Rather, it is contingent upon the design of the training program, and the work environment. The program needs to promote the application of new knowledge and skills back on the job, and the work environment needs to encourage and support their use.
This blog post introduces twelve attributes of training programs that increase training transfer. In a future blog post, conditions that need to exist in the work environment to support training transfer will be explored.
Training Program Attributes that Promote Training Transfer
- The training program objectives are application-oriented and explicitly state what learners will be able to do back on the job
- The learning program is attended within close proximity (2-3 weeks) of when the learners will use the new knowledge and skills
- Strategies are used to help learners link new knowledge and skills to their prior knowledge and experience
- Organization and job-specific examples are used to make the content relevant to learners
- A variety of realistic learning activities are used that allow learners to practice and receive feedback on the use of new knowledge and skills
- Learners practice and receive feedback on the use of job performance aids designed to support their performance back on the job
- Learning media and materials used in the program are designed for use back on the job
- Intensive training programs are grouped into shorter, successive programs to avoid learner burnout and over saturation
- Learners develop action plans to help them identify and plan how they will apply what they learned in the training to their jobs within the next few weeks
- Learners are provided time away from the job to attend the training, and job assignments and pressures are reduced while they attend the program
- Attending and participating in the training program is a positive experience for the learners
- Learners are provided with information about additional training programs and other resources that are available to them, should they want to learn more
Incorporating these attributes into the design of the program will encourage training transfer, once learners return to the work setting. However, as noted above, the work environment must also support their use. Here are just a few things to consider.
- Managers and leaders must serve as positive role models by using the knowledge and skills taught in the program
- Learners have access to tools, equipment, software, and other resources needed to apply what they learned in the program to the job
- Learners are positively reinforced, in ways that are meaningful to them, for applying what they learned in training to the job
In a future blog post, additional conditions that need to be present in the work environment to support training transfer will be reviewed.
In closing, to ensure training programs are of high business value, it’s important to make certain that the knowledge and skills learned in the program are used back on the job. This is referred to as training transfer. If training transfer does not occur, and job performance does not improve, the training is not of value to the organization. Said another way, the training is not a good use of people’s time, training budget, and other resources.