Best Practices in HR

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Emma Weber
  September 2, 2016

5 signs you need to invest in learning transfer – without even changing your curriculum

When it comes to corporate learning there is a very old, very large elephant in the room. After a learning initiative there is often a Grand Canyon-sized gulf between what your employees know and what your employees do with what they know. Yet employees are your organisation’s most competitive advantage. I question that if as an industry we aren’t creating positive business changes post learning then what are we doing? ‘Enter-train-ment’ certainly isn’t the field I aspire to be making a difference in.

Does your organisation have any of these 5 warning signs that you need to invest in learning transfer – to bridge that gap between knowing and doing?

1. Your CEO is demanding to see an ROI from L&D

One of the biggest issues that Learning & Development leaders face in almost every business is credibility, validity and being seen as an investment rather than a cost centre. The more that L&D leaders can be seen as effective contributors to successful business results, the more valued they are going to be. Embrace a transfer of learning solution and you can shift the perception so that you are seen as providers of genuine cost-effective business solutions. By supporting employees to transfer learning with a structured process, training can be implemented into the workplace, business results can be evaluated and distributed, and everyone wins.

2. Your organisation needs change not content

New learning content isn’t cutting it. You might be starting to recognize that you need to shift your priorities from program design and creating new content to focusing on the behavioural change that you want to create. To borrow from Peter Cheese, CEO of the UK’s CIPD – “Content is King, but Context is Kingdom”, and we must “Train for Behaviours” in every way. We must move beyond the old paradigm of learning and be specific about the behaviours we need to see in the business that will support strategic initiatives. We cannot do this by simply thinking what we need participants to know – but by creating real clarity for each individual as to what they can be doing differently back in the workplace by supporting them with a learning transfer process.

3. Your employees are disengaged with learning.

Whether you’re seeing a half empty training room, or training folders and action plans collecting dust soon after a learning initiative; it’s clear to you that learning is not a priority for your employees. It’s a drain on time and resources and your program is not getting the reach it deserves. It’s likely that it’s not the curriculum that is an issue, but the lack of focus on learning transfer to support change back in the workplace. Invest in your employees learning, but do it in a way that is relevant, that supports them to learn with context and embeds learning into their day to day life in the workplace. This will improve engagement in learning and in turn, business results.

4. Your employees go straight back to their normal habits and forget what they have learnt after a training program

You know you have the the right program to address the needs of the business. It’s been designed well, the learning objectives are clear and you’re proud of the initiative. However, you aren’t creating the results you desire. As you’ve seen before, learning is a pathway to a different outcome – and if that different outcome doesn’t materialise then the initiative has failed. Find a transfer of learning solution that suits you, to support employees in embedding their learning after a program and create the change you are seeking.

5. Your workforce is ageing and needs to be re-skilled

Learning plays an important role in the changing demographics of the workforce. Both employees and you will want to have them actively contributing until retirement. Design learning for the audience you have AND the behavioural outcomes that you want back in the organisation. When up skilling mature workers – remind them how to learn, and help them change by holding them accountable to themselves with a learning transfer solution.

Don’t ignore the signs. Don’t turn a blind eye to employees that are frustrated at being asked to attend yet another training program that they know, before they arrive, they will never use in the workplace. Although the reality of your level of impact from learning initiatives may be uncomfortable to face – you’ll be pleased you did when you start to embrace learning transfer and begin to see real results and change from your efforts. Rest assured that this can be achieved without changes to your curriculum and that it might actually be a whole lot easier than you think.