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Dear Manager: Transfer Is Up to You

Or, at least it’s true that your perceived support for using new skills makes a huge difference.

02-24 Pruneyard Sunset

Transfer: Not as Sure as Day Turning to Night

A couple of actions on your part can make all the difference whether your employees use what they learned in training (or not).

  1. Before Training. Tell your employee that you are looking forward to seeing her do X (what she is about to learn) when she gets back from training.
  2. After Training. Notice that your employee is doing X and indicate that you are happy to see that. A little positive reinforcement at this point goes a long way.

For Example. Florence takes an online course about managing meetings. Even if she’s a little nervous about running her first meeting (or about using a new approach), she is more likely to use what she learned if she is sure of your support.

  1. Before Training. Point out that once she’s finished the class, she’s likely to find that using an agenda will help her to run a more productive meeting.
  2. After Training. Make sure she has a chance to manage a meeting before too much time goes by (because new skills fade without use). Find out if she has any questions. If she’s wondering about putting an agenda together, offer assistance. Or, if you see her leading a meeting and using her new skills, say something positive (or at least nod and smile a little).

While there are additional ways to facilitate transfer, learners respond the most to perceived support (or non-support) from their managers.

In fact, studies show that a manager’s reaction is even more important for transfer than whether the training was all that great in the first place. (Be sure not to frown at just the wrong time.)

Take a few minutes to say a supportive word before and after training. For clues about what to reinforce, look at the course description or materials, ask someone in training, ask someone who already took the course, or just talk with the employee about what she learned.

The financial and time investment for taking training is most likely to help you, your organization, and your employee if you spend just a few minutes to show your support for using new skills.

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