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August 2010 - The Problem with Training Transfer

Greetings everyone!

My Experiences

New business, new clients, new service commitments, new challenges... has been my experience the last 4 months. Our fast paced new business venture Complete Africa Tours (CAT) offering corporate and individual passenger transfers and tours has been both exciting with a difference and rewarding. CAT launched its website this month so please do take a look I am also hoping that my existing client base will explore our services in this field in time to come.

Do you know how much of what is taught in training sessions is understood, internalised and applied back on the job? How much of what adults learn gets retained? Do you question if you getting a return on training being done? How do you successfully measure the impact of training interventions? This edition’s My Insights & Views will share some perspective on learning and development interventions and the Problem of Training Transfer to the Workplace.

My Insights & Views

According to a Harvard Business Review article, only about 10% of the population has a "learning mindset". The other 90% only learn new information if they are required to as part of their employment. Any training initiative has to have a BIG WIIFM (what's in it for me) component for the audience. You've got to put on your marketing / sales hat and sell the benefit to them - and then deliver it. The training should be positioned so that they benefit both personally and professionally.

According to Dr. Hermann Ebbinghaus, the typical adult retains 80-90% of what they learn - for the first 24 hours. Their retention level plummets to about 25% after 48 hours. After 30 days, their retention level is between 10% and nothing. In other words, by Wednesday, most people forget 75% of what they learned on Monday. Ouch! One way to increase retention is to work with the participants' managers to have them assign a project to their employees immediately after training so they can start to utilize the new information. This needs to occur within the FIRST 24 HOURS of the class.

Remember: the goal of training is to cause a long-term change in behavior in order to achieve company goals. Successful training organizations "get this". The ones that consistently have to justify their existence don't. Change in habits require constant, consistent follow-up, coaching, mentoring, assessment and feedback.
Follow-up should occur within the first 24 hours of the class, and then at least once per week for the next 30 days. I would also encourage the use of coaches / mentors to help the employees deal with the physiological challenges of adopting a new "habit".

Experts estimate that somewhat less than 20% of training investments lead to some organizational benefit. This anomaly is commonly referred to as the "Problem of Training Transfer". Why is it that such a small proportion of training ends up being used back in the workplace?

Here are 3 factors that influences skills transfer:

  1. Training Participant Attributes – This starts at the beginning of the employee life cycle. Your recruitment, selection and induction process directly impacts who you will be training and what attitude you can expect. Some organisations also have a selection process for strategic training initiatives that will sift out the "wrong" participants.
  2. Training Program Design and Delivery - Ensuring that the training program objectives are clearly focused on your organization's priorities and goals. Tied in with this, participants’ learning outcomes must be stated in terms of behaviour required in the workplace and measurable performance standards.
  3. Workplace Environment - What happens before employees attend the training event and what happens after they return to work are the most important variables determining workplace performance following training.

For example question things like:

  • Did instructional designers, trainers and line managers work together in partnership on the program?
  • Were non-training solutions seriously considered or was a training request received and an off-the-shelf solution delivered?
  • Were training outcomes stated in behaviour and performance terms or were outcomes unstated or stated in fuzzy terms?
  • Were managers and supervisors actively involved before, during and after the program or was the program divorced from the employee's day to day work?
  • Was post-training support provided back in the workplace, such as coaching and on-the-job aids, or were employees left to flounder with no opportunity to practice?
  • Were new procedures and role expectations clearly communicated to employees or were they left wondering why they were nominated for the program?
  • Was the training integrated with a well thought-out and implemented change or improvement program, or was the training a single point "silver bullet" solution?

To find out more on the "Transfer of Training" and what you can do to have a better rate of changed behaviour post training interventions, please do contact me.

My Discoveries

A recent discovery by HIV researchers of a pair of the strongest antibodies for the virus to date is yet just a small step toward creating a vaccine, according to one expert. The naturally occurring antibodies, which block more than 90 percent of all known HIV strains, were found by U.S. scientists in an infected individual's blood, according to research results published in the journal Science on July 9. "It's another little piece" in a "very difficult" path toward finding a vaccine, said HIV and AIDS expert Jeffrey Laurence M.D., a professor of medicine and physician with New York Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center. Understanding how the antibodies in the individual's blood can neutralize the virus "may show a way about how to make something to help others do that," he added. The research is among the most significant developments in the battle to create a vaccine for HIV since a finding last year by researchers. (Extract from International Business Times)

Kind Regards
Audri Riffel

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