Making Training Stick by Getting Closer to the Trainee

When designing training, a learner-centered approach is recommended to improve the learning experience.  Along with a learner-centered approach, it is essential to know the characteristics of each trainee: cognitive ability, self-efficacy, motivation, emotional state, openness, extroversion, perceived usefulness, career goals and commitment to the organization (Training Transfer Process Model© in Making Learning Stick, 2010, pg. 8). Prior to developing training and during the design phase, facilitators should seek answers questions regarding each participant:

·     What is the trainee’s intellectual ability?

·     What are the trainee’s inner beliefs regarding his/her abilities?

·     What is the trainee’s inner motivation regarding the training?

·     Does the trainee have a positive attitude toward the upcoming training?

·     Is the trainee open to this new learning experience?

·     Is the trainee able to verbalize his/her thoughts and feelings?

·     Does the trainee perceive he/she needs to improve performance in this area on the job?

·     Will these skills be useful to the trainee on the job or at home?

·     Can the skills be immediately applied on the job or at home?

·     Does trainee have a personal career plan? Is the personal career plan updated regularly?

·     Does trainee identify with department or work unit?

·     Is there a relationship between identification with company units and the trainee’s desire to gain (and use) new knowledge?

It is imperative to gather as much information as possible regarding each individual trainee to create a more engaging learning experience, prior to the designing the training; this sometimes leads to higher levels of training transfer. So, what can facilitators do to get close with trainees or simply learn more about their individual characteristics prior to training?

1.   Form a partnership with the manger and the organization’s human resources department to help uncover certain organization culture and learner characteristics.

2.   Have participants write down what they expect to get out of the training.

3.   Boss Pre-Briefing (a meeting involving the trainer, trainee’s manager, and human resources representative)

4.   Conduct a person analysis to examine learner characteristics and competencies via interview, survey or another data collection tool.

5.   Use a technique to uncover the cognitive processes involved in performing a job or task such as Cognitive Task Analysis.

6.   Strategy Link: Connect the organization strategy to the specific training

7.   Create Training Buddies/Peer Learning and Support

8.   Include personalization and engagement in the training design.

9.   Uncover strategic requirements that support or inhibit learning.

10.Uncover environmental factors that support or inhibit learning.

Facilitators must be intentional on the specific data needed for each learning experience.   The tips provided can lead to better decisions regarding the content, delivery, and adaptability of the training to various learners.  More information on these and other evidence-based elements for effective learning and transfer are in Barbara Carnes’ book Making Learning Stick on Amazon.

Until next time…

Tammy Means & Barbara Carnes


©2020 by Make Training Stick®. Proudly created with