Trainee Motivation to Transfer … What can you do?

Trainee motivation is a well-known and generally accepted predictor of training transfer.  But what exactly is meant by “trainee motivation” and how can we as instructors, designers, and HR professionals influence trainees to become more motivated to apply more of what they learn in training?

Recent research studies on training transfer point out there are two basic types of trainee motivation to transfer learning:  autonomous and controlled.  Autonomous motivation refers self-motivation.  Controlled motivation refers to requirements, conditions, and imperatives in trainees’ work environments.  Here are some illustrations:

Examples of autonomous motivation to transfer training:

  1.  A trainee sees how a class and the skills learned will fit into their career plan and help them further their career

  2. A learner is stimulated by new ideas and by trying out new approaches and skills

  3. A trainee is currently experiencing a problem or challenge and they believe the training will help them solve it

  4. A participant believes that they will not be punished for trying something new and possibly making a mistake, and in fact they will receive support for trying out new skills and behaviors

Examples of controlled motivation to transfer training:

  1. A learner’s  performance review development plan has a particular class or skill listed and/or they want to receive a higher performance rating on a specific skill or skill set

  2. A trainee knows that their peers and their manager will expect them to begin using new skills learned in training

  3. A participant has an after-training action plan and will be held accountable by the trainer and/or their manager for specific  activities and deliverables

We usually can’t change work environments or performance review processes, but there are some actions that we as designers, instructors, and HR professionals can do to increase trainee motivation to transfer.  Here are some suggestions:

  1. Ask, tell, or remind trainees how the knowledge or skills will help them in their careers.

  2. Inform them how NOT learning the skills or knowledge could hurt their careers.

  3. Let them know how NOT paying attention and learning the training could hurt the organization.  This is especially important for compliance training.  “Checking the box” should not be the goal of compliance training.

  4. At the beginning of the training – or before – invite trainees to reflect on problems they may have had or are experiencing that are related to the training.  Point out how the training can or might help.

  5. Communicate with trainees’ managers and ask them to have a post-training discussion in which they discuss what was learned and how it can be applied to their job.

  6. Send an email to previous participants.  Provide the current trainee’s name and ask them to connect, offering support and suggestions.

  7. Toward the end of training suggest that the participant remind their manager that they will be trying out “some new things” and to ask for feedback.

  8. Provide an action plan form in the training – this includes e-learning.  Send the completed action plan (which can be captured in most e-learning systems) to their manager.  Send the completed action plan to the participant 1-3 weeks after training.

What are ideas do you have?  What do you do in your organization to encourage trainee motivation?  I’d love to hear from you!

Until next time….

P.S. Follow me on Twitter: @StickyTraining

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