Most research on training transfer has focused on strategies to increase transfer of training such as: instructional design strategies, content reinforcement, manager/peer support before and after, opportunity to use, and trainee accountability. All of these are certainly important strategies to increase transfer of training. But one thing has been mostly missing from almost all research and models on training transfer– and this has always puzzled me: the interpersonal dynamics of the trainer and participants.
…Mostly missing until now that is. A recent study by Paul Donovan and David Darcy reported in the International Journal of Training and Development found that in addition to the usual factors that support high levels of training transfer, their survey of participants identified trainer effectiveness as having a strong link to transfer of training. Participants responded positively to statements about trainer preparation, enthusiasm, commitment to training goals, relating training to participant job needs, and providing good feedback. Participants also responded positively to statements about participants working well together in the training and engaging in free and useful information exchange.
In my dissertation research some 15 years ago I found links between transfer of training and the trainer interacting with individual participants, modeling skills being taught, demonstrating empathy, and appearing “genuine” and competent.
With this research in mind, here are reminders for trainer actions in face-to-face and live virtual training that research shows will help make the training stick well. Which 1-2 things do you see that you can to do more/better?
Prepare well. Don’t skimp on prep time or try to fake it. It shows, participants notice, and it can affect how well they apply what they learn as well as how well they learn it.
Be enthusiastic about the learning content. If you don’t feel enthusiastic, fake it. Consider using caffeine or energy boosters to help.
Commit to the goals of the training – not just the learning goals but the overall reason for the training. Show your commitment by making sure you communicate the link between your organization’s strategic mission/goals/plan and the training.
Be sure you understand the job role of each participant in the training and how the training can be applied in their job. Do your homework ahead of time on this if necessary. If this isn’t possible, at the beginning of the training discuss with participants how the training can be applied to each specific job.
Provide specific, relevant feedback to each participant. Don’t use practice time to take a break. Walk around, observe each individual participant, and provide feedbackon their practice. Be available to answer questions during this time. Talk with individual participants during practice time and/or on breaks.
Make sure you model skills being taught. This is an especially critical factor for soft skills training. More than once I’ve had trainees comment to me about a particular trainer who was teaching participative management, active listening, consultative selling, or similar collaborative skills but the trainer was directive and unreceptive to participant questions and input.
Empathize with participants. If you have had a job similar to theirs, let them know this andshare a few “war stories”. If you haven’t had a job like theirs, get input from people with similar job titles prior to the training and use what you learn in these conversations to relate with participants.
Demonstrate self-confidence – verbally and non-verbally – in your ability to teach the class and to perform the skills.
Until next time…..