Training – Then What? How to Make Learning Stick

Training – Then What?  How to Make Learning Stick
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It is Difficult to Make Learning Stick
Too many trainers, instructional designers, and learners struggle with how to make learning stick after a training workshop is completed.  Assuming that the most common training strategy mistakes were avoided, there are proven ways to transfer learning from a workshop to the job.

What is Learning Anyway?
Learning is defined as the acquisition of knowledge or skills through experience, study, or by being taught.  When it comes to how to make learning stick, we believe it is all about the transfer of newly acquired skills and knowledge to the job in order to measurably change behavior and improve performance.

Some Alarming Learning Statistics
Unfortunately, by most accounts, corporations struggle to make learning stick even after they invest heavily in training and development.  Here are some alarming statistics:

  • National training laboratories report only a 5% learning retention rate from lectures, a 10% learning retention rate from reading, and a 20% learning retention rate from audio visual.
  • Our own research based upon over 800 training measurement projects found that only 1-in-5 participants change behavior or improve performance from stand-alone training events, regardless of training modality —  whether it is online, live, blended, or microlearning.
  • On average, 80% of training investments focus on training design and delivery while only 20% focus on what happens before or after the training session.

How to Beat the Odds and Make Learning Stick
If you want to make learning stick for your corporate training initiatives:

  1. Be Aware
    Know where you are on the learning maturity continuum and where you want to go.  It is imperative that you set and manage stakeholder expectations at the onset of your journey.
  2. Create 3x Relevance
    Focus on training relevance to three groups of stakeholders before you determine how to invest in what happens before, during, and after training.
    (1) The participants
    (2) Their bosses
    (3) The senior leadership team.

    Unless all three stakeholders agree upon the importance of the learning initiative, you are bound for a lack of transfer to the job.

  3. Match Your Design and Reinforcement Plan to Your Relevance Level
    If training relevance is high enough to warrant the necessary investments to make learning stick, focus first on what application and reinforcement support you will need from the participants and their managers before and after the training.  For example, participants should work with their boss before and after high impact training to:

    Before Training
    —  Articulate their desired goals from the program
    —  Prioritize the strengths to leverage and developmental areas to work on
    —  Assess training needs for each individual using training needs assessments, assessment centers, interviews, and simulations
    —  Agree upon the support required after the training to apply the lessons learned
    —  Determine how to provide the time and space to fully engage in the workshop
    After Training
    Build an individual development plan to implement what you have learned
    —  Create time, space, and permission to practice, make mistakes, and get feedback
    —  Get refreshers and share what you have learned and committed to improving with your team
    —  Obtain performance coaching
    —  Align the new skills with your performance management processes and career aspirations

  4. Monitor and Measure Progress
    Then like any change initiative, use training measurement to track what is going well and where more support is needed.  This will allow you to make the inevitable adjustments required, encourage participants to seek help from fellow learners, and provide targeted performance coaching.

The Bottom Line
Too many trainers, instructional designers, and learners struggle with how to make learning stick after a training workshop is completed.  To make learning stick, treat it like a change initiative.  Begin by ensuring high relevancy to the business.  Then provide the support required to improve learner confidence and competence where it matters most.

To learn more about how to make learning stick and to improve the transfer of training, download the The #1 Reason Training Initiatives Fail According to Executives

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