Three Roles for Making Learning Stick

Who’s the most important person in making sure people use your training, so it sticks?

  1. The trainee?

  2. The trainer?

  3. The manager of the trainee?

Mary Broad and John Newstrom asked this question in a survey, and the respondents answered that the manager of the trainee is much more important than most of us think. (For a complete description of this research, check out the book I coauthored, Making Training Stick: The Training Transfer Field Guide.)

Why is the Manager so Important?

The Manager:

  1. It is the manager who tells the trainee what’s important for them to know and to do on the job.

  2. It is the manager who, in most cases, gives the trainee opportunities to practice new skills when they return from training.

  3. It is also the manager who sets an example – or not – by their own behavior, as to which skills are valued and important, and which skills are not.

Even if the trainee’s manager does not set a good example with his/her own behavior, a research study from the 1990s found that managers still impact making training stick.  If the manager says something like, “I know I don’t do this, but I think it is important and will help you do your job better,” the trainee is more likely to use the skill(s) learned in training.

How can you encourage managers to talk about it?

  1. Email them before the training

  2. Email them after the training

  3. Include them in training registration – ask them to allow trainee time to learn without back home job responsibilities

  4. Brief managers with a web cast, teleconference, or in-person meeting (one-on-one or in groups)

More specific suggestions are available here.

Remember, managers probably don’t know how much influence they have in making the training stick….unless you tell them, encourage them, and support these efforts.

Until next time…

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