3 Training Rollout Strategies To Help the Transfer of Training

A businessman trying to find a path through the maze of transfer of training on the job

“If you can find a path with no obstacles, it probably doesn’t lead anywhere.”  – Frank A. Clark

Unfortunately, too many training initiatives do not lead anywhere.  They do not lead to skill development.  They do not lead to behavior change.  They do not lead to performance improvement.  And they do not lead to tangible business results.

There are many obstacles to the successful transfer of training.  But if you carefully consider the following three strategies when rolling out a learning solution, you’ll be much more likely to achieve the results you seek.

  1. Participation Options
  2. Rollout Options
  3. Participant Mix Options

Our caveat for success: the three alternatives assume that you have already explicitly linked the training initiative to key business priorities, assessed the situation appropriately, and designed the overall solution and measurement strategies effectively. Additionally, be aware that within these three strategies, each option has advantages and disadvantages depending upon your specific workplace culture, budget, desired outcomes, and where you are on the learning maturity continuum.

Five Rollout Options

  1. Pilot – Testing the program on a targeted group allows you to invest on a limited basis and learn and improve, increases buy-in and, by speeding up the design process, decreases costs. You must be willing, however, to learn and adjust from the pilot as needed.
  2. Top Down – Starting a program with leadership and then cascading down increases executive support and sends a clear message on the importance of the initiative. Getting all the executives to participate may be difficult and they may not have the skills to coach and model the content afterward.
  3. As Available – Signing up people when they are available and as they wish is convenient for them, focuses on the most motivated and can promote cross-functional relationships. But this option may not work on areas of highest need from an organizational perspective.
  4. By Location – Logistically this option makes sense by delivering at one location at a time. But again it may not focus on areas of greatest need and there is less opportunity for cross-fertilization of ideas and perspectives.
  5. By Project / Group / Team / Business Initiative – This option focuses on specific issues important to the business and is easier to tie to ROI as you can work on real issues, projects and problems, but it may be difficult to identify and break down appropriate groups.

Four Main Participation Options

  1. Mandatory – This option is good for company-wide programs (i.e., compliance or foundational learning) and sends a clear message regarding importance, accountability and culture. But if people are “forced” to attend, they may not get the most out of the program.
  2. Suggested – This option for participants who meet specific criteria is effective for targeted team, project and solution programs but is apt to be more costly per person, take more time to implement and cause some inequities in selecting the “right” people to attend.
  3. Selected – When only a select, privileged few attend, the company can target and reward specific individuals who may be candidates for succession planning or special projects. The down-side is that it may de-motivate those who were not selected.
  4. Optional – “Attend if you want” programs work well for foundational-level training for individual contributors but random participation may not achieve stated organizational objectives and may require more logistical support.

Two Participant Mix Options

  1. Cross Functional / Cross Level – This option allows for a good sharing of perspectives, issues, and needs and promotes teambuilding as well as opportunities to solve problems and to coach one another. However, more design and facilitation skill is required to ensure that examples, case studies, discussions, and role plays remain relevant and engaging to the entire audience.
  2. Intact Teams – Working with intact teams promotes teambuilding, focus on specific issues and, because it increases business and on-the-job relevancy, is easier to tie to ROI. Sometimes, however, team issues and dynamics can limit focus on learning.

Conclusion
Many clients puzzle over these various options. They worry about trying to determine rollout options before they know where they are headed and the key obstacles in the way.

Our advice? Begin with clear, desired outcomes from a business and learning perspective.  These clear outcomes will lead you to the leading and lagging success metrics and resources required to achieve your goals.  Once these are clear, it should not be very difficult to select the combination of rollout options that will work best for your initiative.

To learn more about training best practices, download Top 10 Warning Signs that Your Training Function May Be in Trouble

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