Learning transfer strategies from the best businesses

2021.08.08 Fenix Bretz
How the best businesses achieve high-impact learning

The best businesses don’t simply create a training program or module. They know the impact that learning transfer has on productivity and organisational performance. So, they have clear learning transfer strategies to develop a culture of learning within their organisation; they subscribe to the ideas inherent to the High Impact Learning (HIL) model first put forth by Robert O. Brinkerhoff, and what’s more, they continue to cultivate this educational ideal well beyond just the training program itself.

How #1: Create engaging as well as relevant learning interventions.

Many of the better organisations ensure that the learning experience is both engaging and relevant. What we mean by this is quite simple: employees don’t want a generic curriculum that has no real-life bearing. They want to be able to perform their jobs and do so well - the program thus needs to be highly applicable to actual work scenarios they will face. In this way, you keep the learner’s attention and interest. Brinkerhoff refers to the “logic of training.” In other words, what is the purpose and ultimately, how will this translate to improved performance? We're discussing this a bit in our article with a 3-step learning transfer model for your managers.

Along these same lines, organisations who run successful training programs make sure to contextualize the training in question. It’s not enough to just demonstrate the relevance by way of how it applies to the learner’s own job, but you also must connect the training to the businesses objectives and present it as part of the “big picture". 

How #2: Integrate a fair amount of experience-based learning and action-learning.

One of the things that high impact learning organisations do as far as inspiring their employees to work hard at attaining the necessary skills and then on top of that, strive to achieve organisational objectives, is to devise programs in which there is a fair amount of learning by doing. According to a study conducted by SuccessFactors, only 41% of employees noted that they felt as if they had room to grow. A huge part of growth is feeling confident and empowered when it comes to the skills you’ve been taught. Learners sitting in a classroom or in front of a computer screen can certainly listen to and absorb knowledge, but it is only by providing real opportunity for them to practice and perform that they actually improve.

How #3: Ensure feedback loops and continuous reinforcements of the learning.

In HIL organizations employees that complete a learning intervention, gain greater knowledge and master a new skill. Upon returning to work, they try out their newly acquired skills. Through coaching from the managers and collaboration with peers and colleagues the application of the skills is consistently reinforced until an improvement can be seen and, as a result of the learner’s ability to improve and complete assigned tasks, a business objective is achieved. One of the keys' to transfer learning is with your managers, simple as that. Feel free to download our one-page tool with a step-by-step guide for how manager can help their employees to transfer learning

Having structure supporting this agile approach is the first step towards developing a top-notch L&D programme. For this you need to be able to see progress that what you’re doing is working. This is where evaluating training effectiveness offers an invaluable help so get a free demo of Kodo Survey today. With real-time reports, you can help the learner in his development but also see the effectiveness of your training and how much learning is transfered to the job.

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Brinkerhoff, Robert O., and Anne M. Apking. High Impact Learning: Strategies for Leveraging Performance and Business Results from Training Investments. Perseus, 2002

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Kristoffer Laag
HR Strategist