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Training Bulletin
issue 24

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Mary L. Broad & Jack J. Phillips – Transferring Learning to the Workplace

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Training Bulletin Issue 24

Bringing the benefits of training into the workplace

It can be a frustrating experience, having a member of staff go off for a day’s training then realising, a month or so later, that they are still doing things the same way they always did rather than having picked up any new ideas.

From the point of view of the training delegate, it can be equally frustrating. You have a day away from the office and half your colleagues (and maybe even your boss!) assume you’ve been off sick. The work has piled up in your absence and frankly, it’s easier to keep doing what you’ve always done–it may not be the best way but it’s quick and at least you know what you’re doing.

Implementing new ideas is always tougher in the short term than staying in your comfort zone. And if those around you don’t expect changes, where’s the incentive to put yourself out?

Here is our six point plan to help bring back new ideas from training and put them into practice.

1. Set expectations with your staff

Delegates need to know that their management has expectations from the course. The delegates will need to meet these on their return. Set expectations by discussing the course content. Ask delegates to choose some key areas from the course outline that they are interested in learning about, to report back on and share with colleagues. And a warning: if someone is too busy to read the outline or send back the pre-course questionnaire, they’re going to be too busy to put anything new into practice.

2. Make allowances

Be aware that someone trying to implement new ways of working may be a little slower at first as they try out new approaches and routines. Expecting a delegate to return after a day out, to pick up where they left off and to make up the time they missed is not only unfair but guarantees that new ideas will be forgotten.

3. Encourage implementation of new ideas

A short session to discuss the contents shows the delegate that their employer didn’t just send them on a course so they could tick the box to say they’ve had the training. (And, yes, attendees have told us this happens!)

Ask for some new ideas that came from the course and where the delegate thinks they can use them. A good starting point for this is discussing a Personal Implementation Plan (something we ask all our trainees to complete during our courses). Delegates can use this to make notes of ideas they want to take away from the course. The Personal Implementation Plan is designed to encourage delegates to think how a specific suggestion will benefit them. They take away not just a list of good ideas, but how they can put them into practice in their own situation.

All of these can be built into staff’s personal development or appraisals.

4. Share ideas with colleagues

Decide which ideas will benefit others in your organisation as well as you. Examples include changes to ‘boilerplate’ text or templates and the rationale for them, handy hints about ways to remember things (it’s or its?) or using some of the tools in Word™.

5. Set longer term goals and follow up

It’s important to plan for follow-up sessions at reasonable intervals after the training, though not necessarily as part of formal appraisals. An informal chat may be enough to keep both managers and training course delegates focussed on improvements resulting from training. Small, regular goals keep course content in mind and help overcome the tendency to revert to doing things in the old familiar way.

Having staff present a short session on a topic from the course at regular staff meetings will not only help them to practise but will also share those ideas with their colleagues. Managers can demonstrate their commitment to the process by sitting in on the presentations, asking meaningful questions and praising the presenter. They can also lead by example and describe how they’ve used some of the ideas themselves.

The critical component of all of these suggestions is that managers and their staff both remain aware that improvements are expected and looked for.

You can’t guarantee that staff will reach the levels that their managers expect. But you can guarantee that they won’t if those expectations aren’t made clear and regularly followed up.

6. Choose a training provider who offers post-course support

Commitment from managers and delegates can be greatly improved if they feel that they are being supported by the training provider after the course. For example, each delegate who attends a Plain Words’ course is invited to join the Plain Words Writers’ Forum. This is an excellent way to keep their newly acquired skills fresh when they are back in the office. Also, delegates can sign up for on-going coaching via email or face-to-face where a dedicated mentor helps each delegate to implement what they have learnt.

It can be difficult to justify the cost of training if you are unsure if the benefits will be transferred to the workplace. This is one of the reasons we developed a quantitative as well as qualitative assessment of what improvements have been achieved as a result of training. Based on analysing pre- and post-course writing samples we provide a graph showing improvement in ten key writing skills areas. It’s simple and effective and answers that age-old question, ‘Was the training worth it?’

Call 01235 60 30 22 or email to find out more, or check our website.

Editor recommends

Transferring Learning to the Workplace, by Mary L. Broad and Jack J. Phillips, of the American Society for Training and Development.

This is an American publication, but gives a lot of useful information, including detailed case studies showcasing common problems in learning transfer. It is available on Amazon.

Public course schedule

Follow this link for the dates of our public courses.

The price is £495 + VAT per person for a one-day course and £850 + VAT for a two-day course. Half day courses are £295 + VAT per person.

We also offer private courses at your premises. Please call 01235 60 30 22 for details.

How to book

To book, call Abi on 01235 60 30 22 ext 20 or use the booking form.

Kind Regards
The Plain Words Training Team

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