I recently came across a study conducted by ESI International in 2011, “Applying Training and Transferring Learning in the Workplace: How to Turn Hope into Reality.” They surveyed over 3000 people on five continents. My guess is their findings would probably be similar if the survey were conducted today. Here are some highlights:
- 60% had no systematic approach to help trainees apply learning on the job.
- Only 23% of managers had pre-training and post-training discussions with trainees.
- Methods used by organizations to help trainees apply learning:
- 40% - discussions with the manager/team leader
- 37% - on-the-job aids
- 33% - informal support (e.g., social networks, online forums)
- 29% - communities of practice such as peer groups/coaching.
- 25% - post-course assignments
- 19% - post-course assessments
- 58% - workplace norms did not affect application of training, neither positively nor negatively
- “refresher courses, just-in-time follow ups and go-to mentors”
- “give mentors the time to mentor”
- “make training mandatory”
- share with others “how training was applied”
- “measure impact”
1. I concur that pre-training and post-training preparation could make training more effective. As leaders we need to have discussions with trainees. What do we hope they obtain from the training? What do they expect from the training?
2. Training can be a major investment of time and money. Organizations should have systematic methods to evaluate the effectiveness of training -- if the training is valued. In Decoding the Workplace I describe a situation where a company provided training in “soft skills” but senior management did not value the training – it was just done to “fill a square.”
3. Of the ideas respondents offered, I particularly like the idea of “go-to-mentors” and giving the mentors time to mentor. For example, assume I find the training positively and useful. I try to apply what I learned in the workplace but I have questions. A go-to-mentor might make the training more impactful, more effective than it would be otherwise.
ESI International. (2011). Applying training and transferring learning in the workplace: how to turn hope into reality. Retrieved from http://www.esi-intl.com.au/pdf/RR/AURR_Applying_Training_and_Transferring_Learning_in_the_Workplace_How_to_Turn_Hope_into_Reality.pdf
Image, “FEMA Training.” Source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:FEMA_-_44461_-_Media_Relations_Training_at_the_Joint_Field_Office_in_Nashville.jpg Public domain.
Photo is in the public domain and not copyrighted. Use is consistent with FEMA policy: https://www.fema.gov/photo-video-audio-use-guidelines
© John Ballard, PhD, 2015. All rights reserved.
Decoding the Workplace: 50 Keys to Understanding People in Organizations
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